State Watch

New York bans discrimination against natural hair

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed off on legislation Friday to make his state one of the few in the country to ban race-based hair discrimination. 

The New York Democrat signed Assembly Bill 07797 into law, which “prohibits race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles.”

The law amended the state’s Human Rights Law and Dignity for All Students Act to make it clear that race-based discrimination also includes “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

{mosads}”For much of our nation’s history, people of color – particularly women – have been marginalized and discriminated against simply because of their hair style or texture,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“By signing this bill into law, we are taking an important step toward correcting that history and ensuring people of color are protected from all forms of discrimination,” he said. 

Assemblymember Tremaine Wright (D) said that the legislation is personal to her as “a Black woman who prioritizes equity, and has worn my natural for 17 years.” 

“While chatting with racial and gender equity champion Adjoa B. Asamoah about the longstanding and problematic practice of hair discrimination, I recalled the action Congresswoman Marcia Fudge took during her tenure as Congressional Black Caucus Chair to confront new rules the army proposed to ban hairstyles that would disproportionately impact Black women,” she said.

“I determined a legislative fix was in order, and decided I’d carry the CROWN Act in NY,” she continued in a statement. “I am beyond proud to have done so, and for New York to be the first state to have had this historic bill passed in both chambers. Special thanks to Speaker Heastie and Majority Leader Stewart Cousins for their leadership.”

Earlier this month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed legislation into law made his state the first in the nation to ban discrimination against natural hair. 

The bill, also dubbed the CROWN Act, stated that workplace policies prohibiting natural hair “including afros, braids, twists, and locks, have a disparate impact on Black individuals as these policies are more likely to deter Black applicants and burden or punish Black employees than any other group.” 

At the time, Newsom called the bill’s passage an “opportunity for California to lead” as the first state in the country to pass such legislation. He also said he thinks Americans will see a “dozen plus states in the next year” follow in California’s footsteps with similar measures.

Tags Gavin Newsom Marcia Fudge

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