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Your Afro Is Safe In the Empire State: New York Becomes Latest State to Ban Hair Discrimination

It’s now illegal in two major states to discriminate against Black people because of their hairstyles or textures.

New York followed California’s lead on Friday and became the latest state to ban hair discrimination when New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed Assembly bill No. 07797 into law.

The law “prohibits race discrimination based on natural hair or hairstyles.”

“For much of our nation’s history, people of color have been marginalized and discriminated against for their hairstyle or texture,” Cuomo said in a statement released Friday. “I was proud to sign a bill today that makes it clear that discrimination against hairstyles associated with race is illegal in New York State.”

The law, which went into effect immediately, amends sections of the New York Human Rights Law and Dignity for All Students Act to also define race as “traits historically associated with race, including but not limited to hair texture and protective hairstyles,” Cuomo says in his statement.

This follows California Gov. Gavin Newsome signing into law a bill that made his state the first to ban discrimination over natural and “protective” hairstyles on July 3.

When California’s Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace (CROWN) Act was signed into law, it changed how the state defines race to include traits historically associated with race such as “hair texture and protective hairstyles.”

New York Assembly Member Tremaine Wright says in a statement that she decided to carry the CROWN Act in New York after talking to a gender equity advocate about longstanding hair discrimination and remembering U.S. Army rules proposed to ban certain hairstyles affecting Black women.

“As a Black woman who prioritizes equity, and has worn my natural for 17 years, this bill is deeply personal for me,” Wright says in the statement.

New York Sen. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says in a statement that discriminating against someone because of hairstyle or texture is wrong.

“We should celebrate the diversity that makes New York State great and that includes respecting the hair style choices of all New Yorkers,” she says.

Stewart-Cousins went on to thank New York Sen. Jamaal Bailey for sponsoring the legislation.

“When leadership is diverse, it understands and is reflective of the communities,” Bailey says in a statement. “Thank you for protecting our crowns.”  

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