California's Bill to End Hair Discrimination is a Big Deal - and It Just Passed the Senate!

The Senate has recently approved a bill, SB 188 that was authored by Senator Holly Mitchell. The bill was designed to end discrimination against natural hairstyles in the workplace and in K-12 public and charter schools. This includes hairstyles such as braids, dreadlocks, twists, and many other hairstyles typically worn by African-Americans. 

Now to say that this is a bill that is even necessary would be far too obvious, but it is a step in the right direction. Often times in workplaces, school, or life in general natural hairstyles on black people are usually seen as dirty and unkempt. And I say black people specifically because often times these styles would be worn by non-black people and not they'd not face the same backlash. In some cases, they'd even be celebrated. All of these things are just rooted in stereotypes that are simply not true. Before the passing of this bill, there were no legal protections for people being discriminated over something as trivial as hair. 

This has been a problem that has been seen countless times throughout years, and even more so now since there's been a cultural shift to people celebrating their natural hair more and wearing more natural/protective styles. However, this bill was specially produced after a video surfaced in December of a black teenager being forced to have his dreadlocks cut off to continue a wrestling competition or be forced to forfeit. While he did have his hair cover according to guidelines, the referee didn't feel that it was enough. Many called the act discriminatory and quite frankly inhumane. 

For a lot of us, our hair is part of our identity. We see it everywhere, especially in the media. People dye their hair different colors when they feel like stepping out of their comfort zone, people cut all their hair off for self-confidence reasons to feel a sense of control in their lives. Hair is really just that. It's hair but it is a key point to people's identity and to be discriminated against or forced to assimilate because someone doesn't feel your hair is "appropriate" or "clean" is ridiculous, yet many people face the effects of such discrimination every day. 

While the bill now has to go through the Assembly for approval and then to the governor, it is an essential thing that could help potentially thousands of people. I can only hope that other states and large corporations will see this as a wonderful thing and adopt similar policies.