Exchange Natural Hair

Tricia Morrill of Minneapolis braids the hair of her daughter, Saraphina, during a kids' hair fundamentals class on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 at Beauty Lounge Minneapolis. Morrill said she has piecemealed information from friends, salons and YouTube videos to learn about caring for her 8-year-old daughter's hair. (Christine T. Nguyen/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

CINCINNATI (AP) — A city council member in Cincinnati wants to prohibit discrimination against natural hair and natural hairstyles associated with race.

Cincinnati City Councilman Chris Seelbach is proposing that natural hair be added to the city's discrimination policy, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported .

"People of color have been forced to regard natural and popular hairstyles — such as bantu knots, box braids, cornrows, dreadlocks, or Afros — as liabilities in the workplace, housing and public accommodations," Seelbach said.

Under the proposed law, the city would investigate complaints of discrimination. If discrimination is determined, a fine of up to $1,000 — $100 per day — could be levied until the discriminatory practice is corrected.

New York and California outlawed hair discrimination earlier this year.

A public discussion on the proposal is scheduled for the City Council's Arts, Youth & Inclusion committee on Tuesday. The full council is expected to vote Wednesday.

Kamara Douglas, the community affairs director for Seelbach's office, said her Caribbean grandmother urged to go natural, but that she long resisted and grew up processing and straightening her hair.

"I was always under the impression kinks were not attractive; I thought it was better to have straight hair," said Douglas, 30. "Growing up in America, I wanted to have long, flowy, straight hair."

"In the Black community, your hair is your identity," Douglas said. "I wanted to be identified as 'Kamara with the good hair."

Douglas went natural eight years ago and said she loves it, but was asked at one point by an employer to remove her braids and wear a weave. She did it, but said it led her to feel more insecure. "I thought, 'now I am ugly,'" she said.

Jasmine Coaston, director of community affairs for Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld, said such legislation is important.

She said there is a history of women, Black women especially, being "scrutinized and dehumanized because of the way their hair grew out of their heads."

"This is a step in the right direction," Coaston said. — (AP)

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