The Golden State is about to become the first state nationwide to ban employers from discriminating against people with natural hair.
The state assembly has voted 69-0 to pass a bill last week that includes hair texture and hairstyles under its equal rights protections. The bill, also known as The Crown Act, was introduced by Los Angeles Democrat Sen. Holly Mitchell.
The main goal of Sen. Mitchell was to ensure a respectful and open workplace for all, including people with natural hairstyles. It is now in the hands of California Gov. Gavin Newsom awaiting his signature.
As California Assembly member Sydney Kamlager-Dove put it, if the ban turns into law, it would be first of its kind nationwide. Kamlager-Dove also added that another important goal of the bill is to educate the public about the black hair textures. It also aimed to challenge the widespread myths and misconceptions about how a professional hairstyle should look.
As noted in the bill texts, the contemporary workplace dress code often prohibits natural hair, including twists, Afros, braids, and more. As a result, the Afro-American people have to undergo expensive and painful hair treatment procedures to change the texture of their hair to meet the common standards.
Activists and supporters for such protection state that unequal treatment for Afro-American people who wear natural, chemical-free hairstyles have gone beyond the workplace and expanded into schools, subjecting black kids to similar discrimination.
For instance, last year, during a wrestling tournament in New Jersey, one of the referees ordered a black high school competitor to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit his match.
As the bill sponsor, Sen. Mitchell pointed out, she has received many complaints of black people who had been declined employment or promotion because of the way they were wearing their hair. Apart from that, she has also heard for numerous black kids sent back home from school because their hairstyle was too unruly or it caused distraction in the classroom.
Los Angeles might be the first state to pass a bill to protect natural hairstyles, but it is not the sole state to take measures in that direction.
Earlier this year, in February, the New York State Commission on Human Rights passed similar protection.
It classified restrictions on natural hair in workplaces, schools, and public spaces as racial discrimination. It explicitly emphasized on the rights of the citizens to maintain their natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles, including dreadlocks, twists, braids, Afros, and more.
What do you think? Do you support or oppose California's natural hairstyle bill?