U.S. Legislation on Natural Hair Sparks Worldwide Traction

by Xara Aziz

A British watchdog has condemned schools that do not allow Black children to wear their natural hair to schools.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) made the announcement Friday, advocating that policies surrounding the appearance of students who wear cornrows, braids and locks should be deemed unlawful.

In 2010, the Equality Act protected people of color from being discriminated against because of their choice of hairstyle, including Afros, braids, cornrows and head coverings, amongst other styles.

The EHRC issued its guidance for schools across England, Scotland and Wales and has been well-received by many Black parents.

One parent, Tamika Martin, told The Voice she agrees with the watchdog’s ruling

“I think the idea of banning children with natural Afro hair from school is ludicrous and it is discriminatory,” she said

The EHRC further added that “hair-based discrimination disproportionately affects girls and boys with Afro-textured hair or hairstyles.”

Earlier this year, U.S. Congress passed the CROWN Act, prohibiting race-based hair discrimination, which would deny employment and educational opportunities because of hair texture.

The legislation was passed through a campaign led by the CROWN Coalition, founded by Dove, National Urban League, Color Of Change, and Western Center on Law & Poverty.

“We need to take a leaf out of their book!” said Martin, who says the U.K. should implement a similar legislation.

“It shouldn’t take for another country, but that is the influence America has, we should be taking the initiative naturally to see where things are going horribly wrong.” 

The mother of three girls continued: “They are embracing their own natural beauty, it is natural beauty for us, and to be penalized for that is so wrong.”

She recalls one account her now 23-year-old daughter faced while attending a predominately White school.

“She was wearing box-braids extensions and wearing it down and the teacher made a comment and said she needs to not have it out but have it tied back and not hanging loose.” 

Martin said she was so upset that she called the school, which issued an apology.

“I just don’t see what that has to do with your education and learning in school,” she said. 

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