California becomes first state to ban natural hair discrimination

U.S. & World

Shana Bonner, left, styles the hair of Pho Gibson at Exquisite U hair salon in Sacramento, Calif., Wednesday, July 3, 2019. California is the first state to ban job and school discrimination against people for wearing natural hair styles such as braids. (AP Photo/Kathleen Ronayne)

SACRAMENTO (KRON) — With the stroke of a pen, California is now the first state in the country, banning discrimination against natural hair.

The measure gives people of color the power to flow their hair freely in the form curls, locks and braids without fear at work and school.

“And not needing to alter that to meet someone else’s comfort level,” said Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles).

Surrounded by black women, the governor says he was moved last year when a New Jersey wrestler was forced to cut off his braids to be eligible for a match.

“That is played out in workplaces, it’s played out in schools, not just in athletic competitions, every single day all across America in ways subtle and ways overt,” the governor said.

Mitchell authored the bill. 

Her proposal made it through the building without a single no-vote.

“Every single Supreme Court case, we’ve lost and employers have won. That’s why this bill is so critical to include natural hair and protected hairstyles,” she said. 

Beauty industry leaders from New York flew across the country to celebrate the signing.

“This seems like it’s about hair but it’s about so much more. It’s about women feeling confident to be who they are and having the world embrace that,” said Esi Eggleston Bracey, the COO of Unilever Beauty. 

While California is the first state to pass this legislation both New York and New Jersey are considering the measure. 

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