In New York, distinguishing people on the basis of their natural hair will be considered racial discrimination. The new guidelines by the New York City Commission on Human Rights aim at protecting the rights of New Yorkers at workplaces, schools, where black people were, have faced discrimination for wearing their natural hair. To fight racism, the city has decided to ban discrimination based on one's hair. Women have often complained about how they straightened their natural curls to meet the requirements of the companies they work in.
The commission's report said that black hairstyles are often considered "unprofessional" and organisations who limit workers and students from wearing their hair "perpetuate racist stereotypes". The legal guidance points out that "there is a widespread and fundamentally racist belief that black hairstyles are not suited for formal settings, and may be unhygienic, messy, disruptive, or unkempt". Curl Shaming: Bengaluru Girl Commits Suicide After Being Teased for 'Incomplete Hair Straightening Treatment'.
The guidelines mention the right of New Yorkers to maintain their "natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state". And those organisations and institutions not following the rule may get fined upto $250,000 (Rs 1.7 crore).
NYC Human Rights Commissioner Chair Carmelyn P Malalis said that hairstyle policies were less about professionalism and more about "limiting the way black people move through workplaces, public spaces and other settings". She also said the guidelines will help organisations "understand that black New Yorkers have the right to wear their hair however they choose without fear of stigma or retaliation". Malalis also stressed on the guidelines being implemented in schools too. She said, "It's so important for young people to themselves and to be valued for who they are."