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‘Proudly kinky, proudly nappy’: Edwards drives City Council support for bill to end natural hairstyle discrimination

The Boston City Council is supporting a proposed state regulation that will shoot down insurance policies and laws discriminating in opposition to pure hairstyles — guidelines that disproportionately have an effect on individuals of coloration, significantly in faculties and within the office.

Councilors voted on Oct. 2 to undertake a decision by City Councilor Lydia Edwards voicing assist for the invoice filed by state Rep. Steven Ultrino, a Malden Democrat.

Ultrino’s proposal, “An Act Prohibiting Discrimination Based on Natural Hairstyles,” would formally acknowledge that concentrating on “a person’s natural hair and hairstyle associated with their race is racial discrimination” and defend a person’s rights to put on braids, locs, and twists, amongst different stylistic variations.

While the invoice additionally evokes different conditions as examples — akin to an individual being denied entry at a nightclub or a hairstylist charging a better worth due to a pure coiffure — Edwards mentioned the regulation is essential for ending college gown code insurance policies that stop younger, black women from attending their courses primarily based on how they select to type their hair.

Those sorts of gown code violations make up the vast majority of the explanation why black women are disciplined in class, she mentioned.

“I want you to understand what a slap in the face those regulations are at the outset: When they tell you your hair is … so offensive that you shouldn’t be able to wear it that way,” Edwards advised councilors. “Natural means just that. My hair grows out this way, proudly kinky, proudly nappy. That’s my hair — and it has been a journey to actually say that out loud and be proud of that.”

In @BOSCityCouncil this week, spoke on concern of discrimination in opposition to pure hair & hairstyles.

For full video, together with @Kim_Janey feedback observe hyperlink: https://t.co/eJ65s0fa4c @RepUltrino @LCRBOSTON pic.twitter.com/c81CCGDZxS

— Lydia Edwards (@LydiaMEdwards) October 3, 2019

In 2017, the problem erupted in Ultrino’s Malden district when twin 15-year-old black women who have been college students at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School acquired a number of detentions for carrying hair extensions.

School gown code insurance policies on the time banned hair that was greater than 2 inches in thickness or peak, shaved sides, and hair extensions.

The state Attorney General’s workplace advised the varsity its gown code appeared to violate racial discrimination legal guidelines, and people bans have been later dropped from the scholar handbook.

“The way the regulations are written for the Mystic Valley Regional Charter School would have prevented me as a young girl from going to school there,” Edwards mentioned.

“I had to come forward, not only to support this legislation, but to give you a face to who this law would be impacting: a younger version of me,” she added.

Proud to file decision @BOSCityCouncil in assist of @repultrino invoice to ban discrimination in opposition to pure hairstyles. Natural means simply that. This is who I’m and who we’re. pic.twitter.com/DwZBFTfCq5

— Lydia Edwards (@LydiaMEdwards) October 2, 2019

Under Ultrino’s invoice, “no school district, school committee, public school or nonsectarian school shall adopt or implement a policy or code that impairs or prohibits natural hairstyles,” in response to the submitting.

“The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education shall provide written guidance for the administration of this section,” the invoice says.

Councilor Kim Janey, referencing how her coiffure not too long ago modified from lengthy locs to a twist, mentioned she understands the problem wholeheartedly.

“This is about letting our young girls just learn, letting young black girls in particular learn,” Janey mentioned. “We should not be trying to mandate how people’s hairs grow out of their head and whether or not they can access school and work.”

The invoice, filed final month, was referred to the House of Representatives Committee on House Rules.

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