Cincinnati is on track to be the first city in the country to end a form of discrimination that has existed since this nations’ founding. Councilmember Chris Seelbach has introduced legislation to add legal protections for natural hair types and styles to the City of Cincinnati’s Non-discrimination ordinance. Since the days of slavery, the natural hair types and natural hair styles commonly associated with African-Americans have been the focus of intentional as well as unintended discrimination against those individuals, based on negative, lingering, cultural biases that frequently favor hair styles and hair types that more closely resemble Eurocentric hair types and hair styles. The new law, based on similar laws passed by the states of California and New York, defines natural hair types and styles as protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodation.
“People of color have been forced to regard natural and popular hairstyles — such as bantu knots, braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, or Afros — as liabilities in the workplace, housing and public accommodations for too long. Black women are especially penalized because their style may not conform to what some may define as the traditional notions of beauty,” Seelbach said. “By adding natural hair to our City’s non-discrimination policy, we can ensure that no Cincinnatian will be marginalized or discriminated against simply because of their hair style or texture.”
“From my kinks to my coils, I have grown to love my natural hair,” said Kamara Douglas, Administrative & Community Affairs Director for Councilmember Chris Seelbach who spearheaded the legislation. “Unfortunately, we live in a world where some institutions don’t think natural hair is professional or becoming. Not only is this demeaning, it can affect an individual’s sense of identity.
The natural hair ordinance is so important for people of color and passage of this law reflects Cincinnati’s embrace of all members of its community.” Councilmember Seelbach is confident the legislation will pass City Council unanimously on October 9th.