New York City unveiled guidelines aimed at banning discrimination on the basis of people’s hair, reports BuzzFeed News.
Officials with the NYC Commission on Human Rights said Monday the new rules will apply to anyone but will primarily protect Black people, who have been subject to discriminatory practices because of their natural hair.
“In New York City, we want to make the bold statement that these prohibitions on hairstyles that are closely associated with Black people are a form of race discrimination,” Carmelyn Malalis, Human Rights commissioner and chair, told BuzzFeed News. “They really fail to consider the toll these bans take on Black identity.”
According to the guidelines, Black people will have the right to wear their hair in “locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.”
Discrimination against Black people wearing natural hair has made headlines in recent months. In December, a high school wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks before a match by the referee, causing a firestorm that led to the ref’s firing. In January, a Mississippi news anchor alleged that she was fired from her job after she accused the TV station of racial discrimination when she was told that her natural hair was unprofessional.
Chirlane McCray, the wife of Mayor Bill de Blasio, told BuzzFeed News that “bias against the curly textured hair of people of African descent is as old as this country and a form of race-based discrimination.”