Minnesota Considers Bill Against Hair Discrimination

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Minnesota’s state legislature is considering a bill to keep employers from discriminating against people based on their natural hair.

Democrat Rep. Rena Moran, who introduced HF 3103, wants to expand the definition of race in the Minnesota Human Rights Act to include “hair texture and hair styles, such as braid, locks, and twists.” The bill in question would ban employers from a particularly insipid form of racism: discriminating against people based not on cleanliness, but on their natural hair types and styles.

“We hope that in the workplace that it would be part of the social norm for employers to look at an individual and be OK with the natural hairstyles that come along with who we are,“ Moran said in her testimony before the state legislature. “That braids or twists or dreadlocks shouldn’t be a determination about whether or not you are hired.”

Moran told reporters she hopes in the future “people will not see us as different, or your natural hair as inappropriate or ugly — that it would be more acceptable.” The Minnesota Commissioner of Human Rights, Rebecca Lecrero, has voiced her support of the bill, joining Moran to testify on its behalf.

Minnesota’s bill would join similar legislation recently passed in New York and California. “Policies that limit the ability to wear natural hair or hairstyles associated with black people aren’t about ‘neatness’ or ‘professionalism,’” NYC Human Rights Commissioner Carmelyn P. Malalis told the New York Post in 2019. “They are about limiting the way black people move through workplaces, public spaces and other settings.”

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