Montgomery is the first county to ban hair discrimination in the U.S.

Ama Nunoo Feb 10, 2020 at 09:30am

February 10, 2020 at 09:30 am | Activism & Campaigns, News

Ama Nunoo

Ama Nunoo | Staff Writer

February 10, 2020 at 09:30 am | Activism & Campaigns, News

Photo;Teen vogue

There have been several instances in the United States where people have been discriminated against because of their hair and now some legislators are seeking to change the law to an all-inclusive one.

Montgomery County, Maryland, passed a bill that bans hairstyle discrimination last Thursday.

It becomes the first County in the United States to roll out this ban on a local level, meanwhile, CaliforniaNew York, and New Jersey have all passed similar protections at the state level. 

Black people have had to deal with all forms of attacks and racist policies that prevent them from wearing their hair in traditional natural hairstyles. Such styles include but not limited to cornrows, Bantu knots, Afros, and braids in schools, work and other institutions.

To combat this at the local level, city council members passed a bill that broadens the definition of race used in their human right legislation.

“It will expand the definition of race to include natural hairstyles, like Afros, twists, Bantu knots and protective hairstyles like braids, that people of African descent wear,” Montgomery County Council member Will Jawando said in an interview last year with WTOP.

The council members deliberately included hair in the definition of race to fight against the discrimination.

Natural hair advocates have spoken severally about the increasing hair discrimination problem that African-Americans battle with on a daily.

A lawyer and diversity trainer on Long Island, New York, Ama Karikari-Yawson told NBC, “In the past, the regulations existed, but African-Americans often conformed through haircuts, wigs and relaxers. Now, more of us are choosing not to conform, and so the conflicts are coming to light.”

This bill falls under the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act, which guarantees protection against prejudice based on hairstyles.

Will Jawando along with Council President Nancy Navarro led the introduction of the bill originally in September 2019.

“We have over 200,000 black and Latina women in Montgomery County, many of whom get up every day and make decisions about how they are going to present themselves to the world,” Jawando said.

The lawmakers defending CROWN Act will stop at nothing till it is adopted throughout the country, but of course they must work their way to the top.

In lieu of this, New Jersey Senator Cory Booker also declared in December 2019 his efforts to pass the first federal bill banning hair discrimination.

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