California has approved a new anti-discrimination law designed to prevent discriminations against hairstyles that are natural to African-Americans.
“In California, we celebrate the contributions of everyone — no matter where they are from, who they love, what language they speak … no matter how they wear their hair,” California Governor Gavin Newsom told press on Wednesday.
The new law amends the state’s anti-discrimination law, adding those natural traits that have been “historically associated with race” to the description of “race”, Xinhua news agency reported.
The new law was prompted by several high-profile instances of thinly-veiled racial discrimination involving hairstyles, including an African American woman who was allegedly fired from her job for wearing cornrows at work and the public outrage that went viral when a New Jersey referee named Alan Mahoney forced a young African American wrestler to chop his dreadlocks off or forfeit the match.
Increasingly, black women are challenging white people’s notion of professional grooming in the workplace and resisting corporate pressure that often seeks to require black women to wear their hair as white women do.
This push for ‘identity equality’ has reached the highest echelons of power — the US Congress itself. Two first-term Congresswomen — Representative Ayanna Pressley and Representative Lauren Underwood — both wear hairstyles unique to African Americans.
The law was endorsed by civil rights advocacy groups around the country.