N.J. bill would ban discrimination based on hairstyle. It’s a measure prompted by Buena dreadlocks incident

Melanie Burney | June 24, 2019 | Philadelphia Inquirer |

 

A bill introduced in the New Jersey legislature would ban discrimination based on hair in the workplace, housing and public schools.

The measure was prompted in part by a Buena high school wrestler who had his dreadlocks cut to avoid forfeiting a match. It would toughen existing civil rights laws by prohibiting discrimination based on hair type, texture or style and include such natural styles as locs, braids, twists and Afros. Identical versions of the bill were introduced this month in the Assembly and Senate.

If the measure is approved, New Jersey would join California, New York State and New York City in taking steps to confront the issue of race and hair among different cultures and ethnic groups. Blacks have increasingly pushed back against workplace policies that prohibit their natural hairstyles and a new campaign by the CROWN Coalition seeks to get similar laws passed in Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

“For too long, narrow beauty standards in this country have perpetuated unfair scrutiny and injustice for hairstyles and textures inherent to Blacks’ identity and change is crucial,” Esi Eggleston Bracey, executive vice president and chief operating officer of North America Beauty and Personal Care at Unilever, the New Jersey-based parent company of Dove, which co-founded the campaign, said in a statement.

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