New York Is Banning Natural Hair Discrimination

Erin Lukas
New York Is Banning Natural Hair Discrimination

Following California, New York is the second state to pass its own law that bans race-based hair discrimination. On July 12, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the bill that prohibits discrimination based on natural hair textures and styles, from braids to twists.

"For much of our nation's history, people of color — particularly women — have been marginalized and discriminated against simply because of their hairstyle 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."

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Currently, New York and California are the only states with laws that ban this type of discrimination, while New Jersey introduced a proposal in June. Similar to California, New York's law includes natural hair textures and styles in its definition of race.

Earlier this month, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the CROWN Act into law (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair). The bill, which passed unanimously in the California assembly and sentate, protects people with natural hair textures and styles including braids, twists, and more. The law states that workplace policies that ban natural hair textures and styles influence the American standards of professionalism, and have negativitely impacted Black individuals more than any other group by detering them from applying to jobs, or burdening them by maintaining "professional" hairstyles that are closely linked to European beauty standards.

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The bias towards natural hair in the U.S. has been well-documented, including actresses like Lupita Nyong'o speaking out when a magazine that photoshopped her natural hair, and Gabrielle Union revealing that a lot of on-set stylists aren't educated in working with natural hair.

These two laws are another step in the right direction, but it's time for the other 48 states to catch up.