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Hair Discrimination is Race Discrimination

WHEREAS, The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) seeks to confront and eliminate societal and institutional prejudices deterring the advancement of African Americans; and

WHEREAS, policies that ban or restrict natural hair or Black hairstyles should be recognized as race discrimination because of the close association of natural hair or hairstyles with, and the unique and heavy burden imposed on, Black men and women; and

WHEREAS, policies having the effect of forcing Black people to adapt to Eurocentric hairstyles can lead to significant physical harm, including breakage, loss, skin and scalp damage, and the development of trichorrhexis nodosa and traction alopecia. Even more alarming, a 2011 study published by the American Journal of Epidemiology linked hair relaxers to an increase in uterine fibroids; and

WHEREAS, policies having the effect of forcing Black people to adapt to Eurocentric hairstyles can lead to significant financial burdens. Black women spent nearly 2.5 billion dollars on haircare in 2018, and on average, spend an estimated nine times more than White women on hair care; and

WHEREAS, recognizing a different approach towards policies that ban or restrict natural hair or hairstyles associated with Black people will enrich the community by bringing to light the invidious forms of explicit and implicit bias that have historically caused substantial harm to those who wish to maintain natural hair or specific hairstyles but are forced to choose between education or employment and their cultural, social, and/or religious identity; and

WHEREAS, the exertion of control over and systemic ban on natural hair and hairstyles associated with Black people can be traced to the denigration of Black people under slavery; and

WHEREAS, State legislatures in California, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Washington, Minnesota, Maryland, Virginia, Georgia and Ohio have recognized that hair discrimination targeting hairstyles associated with race is racial discrimination and passed legislation or begun to pass legislation that combats such discrimination; and

WHEREAS, local government such as Cleveland, Toledo, Philadelphia and Montgomery County have recognized same; and

WHEREAS, our nation, in both our laws and our societal expectations, has historically characterized Black physical characteristics such as dark skin and kinky and curly hair as negative traits, including unprofessional, dirty, and unmanageable, and such negative connotations lead to separate and unequal treatment; and

WHEREAS, physical, psychological and financial costs and burdens are placed on Black people in order to adapt to outdated, Eurocentric ideals of beauty and professionalism. Further, Black culture is inherently tied to natural hair and Black hairstyles and, as such, should be protected from implicit bias and subconscious racism; and

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP will advocate for federal, state, and local legislation and public policy recognizing that hair discrimination is racially discriminatory and work to further prohibit such practices as they relate to employment, education, sports, housing accommodations, and public accommodations

Derrick Lewis - Youth & College Hero

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