On July 3, California became the first state to pass a law that will ban discrimination against natural hair, particularly black people’s natural hair.
It is saddening that this law had to be passed to begin with. It is distressing to know that some employers see natural hair as a distraction or a hindrance, especially since I am a black person that wears my natural hair who is about to graduate college and find a job. The way someone wears their hair does not determine a person’s level of productivity in the workplace.
The bill was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom of California. This new law not only protects citizens in the workplace but also students who wear natural hairstyles in grades K-12. These hairstyles include braids, twists, cornrows, dreadlocks and afros.
In the summer of 2018, a 6-year-old boy from Florida was denied access into his school because of his dreadlocks. To me, it seems very heartless to deny a child his or her education just because his or her hair supposedly goes against the rules. I will never understand how one’s hair can defy an establishment’s rules. Hair does not define how a student will gain his or her education. You can’t just look at a child and assume that he or she will lack in gaining their education just by looking at the appearance of their hair.
The signing of this bill does give me hope, though. It proves that there are some people in this world, not of my color, who understand or are trying to understand the importance of prohibiting discrimination.
Some people wear these natural hairstyles as a representation of their culture and their lifestyle, even some as a symbol of religion. Telling people to do away with their hair is like telling people to throw their beliefs and lifestyle away. People should not be presented with the option of living or giving up their symbolism.
In 2018, a high school wrestler in New Jersey was told to either forfeit from a match or cut his dreadlocks if he wanted to stay in the competition. People should not have to be presented with the option of either giving up a symbol of their lifestyle or giving up what they enjoy doing.
The bill that was signed is also known as the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act. It is said that New York and New Jersey are the next states to consider signing this act into law. I only hope that it doesn’t stop there. I want this bill to spread throughout the whole country so that black people everywhere will get the freedom of expressing their beliefs and culture through their hair.
I am delighted that this anti-discrimination act was passed, but at the same time, this signing of the bill opens my eyes even more to how America is lacking moral discernment. It breaks my heart that this bill had to come into existence because black people were being negatively distinguished just by the appearance of their hair.