California is stepping up its policies against discriminatory actions by any individual or institutions. For the black community, this would mean a lot more than any other group. Even though there have been active policies to stop discrimination, there have been multiple situations where the community has been targeted because of issues such as hairstyles. Ranging from middle school children to anyone in the work environment, few have been spared.
An open letter by a mother captured the attention of the public about the intensity of the discrimination and how it affects children. Erika Pagett was devastated after her son went through a difficult time for his hairstyle.
Her son, an honors roll student, was sent to the school office after a teacher said that the hairstyle he sported was against the institution's policies. This was not an isolated incident. Children from various schools across many states have reported on being discriminated against their hairstyle or choice of clothes.
Hair braiding is a leading profession among Senegal migrants in USA
Braiding has become an attractive hairstyle among almost everyone in North America. Senegalese women who immigrated to the US have been taking up hair braiding as a career. The hair braiding technique attracts many despite various cultural filters. Discrimination against these hairstyles is prevalent despite laws.
Faith Fennidy was just an 11-year-old girl who used braided extensions to keep her hair from getting in the way of her tasks. Did it represent her as a student? No. Yet she was asked to remove it because it was against the school policies.
Pagett's letter to increase awareness had an impact in a few states, although there are several that are yet to realize the discrimination the community faces due to their hairstyle. Children are often clueless as to why they are punished for their hairstyles. Several researches show that black students are often disciplined more often than white students and tend to receive more suspensions as well. Pagett along with ACLU has worked on the discriminatory behavior on hairstyle.
What does the law state?
Governor Gavin Newsom took the first step against discriminatory behavior on hairstyle by signing the law in July this year, which will come into effect in January. A new beginning for the new decade. Although there are several promising legal policies coming up this New Year, the hairstyle law is a step towards stopping various kinds of discrimination against the community.
The Crown Act makes sure that no person or people will be discriminated against on the basis of their hairstyle or similar aspects. Apart from California, two other states, New Jersey and New York, have taken steps towards stopping such discrimination. The SB 118 is an act to amend Section 212.1 of the Education Code, and to amend Section 12926 of the Government Code, which are subject to discrimination in a workplace and school environment.