Black lawmakers fight hairstyle discrimination, prod Kamala Harris to join cause

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Five Black Democratic congresswomen want discrimination against people based on their style of hair to be considered racial discrimination — and they are seeking support from Vice President Kamala Harris.

They introduced a bill that would outlaw discrimination based on styles of hair associated with race or national origin, including “hair that is tightly coiled or tightly-curled, locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, [and] Afros.”

The lawmakers — Reps. Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Barbara Lee of California, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Gwen Moore of Wisconsin — asked Ms. Harris to weigh in.

“As a woman of color, we know that you understand personally the ways in which bias — overt discrimination and its equally harmful unintentional and systemic counterparts — shapes so much of the world,” they wrote to Ms. Harris.

The lawmakers cited a Brookings Institution study that found that Black students are three to six times more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than white students sometimes because of the appearance of their hair.

The bill was also introduced in the Senate by Sen. Cory Booker, New Jersey Democrat.

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