Natural hair, cincinnati, ordinance
Cincinnati City Council just voted 7-1 for an ordinance that would outlaw discrimination based on natural hair texture and style. Discrimination of this kind most commonly affects Black women. (Photo: Christina Morillo via Pexels)

Cincinnati Votes for Ordinance Against Natural Hair Discrimination

City council members in Cincinnati voted to pass an ordinance outlawing discrimination based on natural hair texture and style.

The ordinance passed with a vote of 7-1, with Councilman Jeff Pastor absent. Amy Murray was the lone “no” vote. She claims protections against hair discrimination should already be assumed to be covered in the laws the city has against racial discrimination. However, the wording of this ordinance acknowledges the racialized nature of discrimination based on hairstyle and texture and the significance of hairstyle in many Black people’s cultural identities.

Councilman Chris Seelbach, a white man, pushed the city to add specific natural hair protections to the city’s existing anti-discrimination law. He has been an activist for LGBTQ rights in the city and took up the cause of supporting natural hair after Kamara Douglas, community affairs director in his office, told him her story. She had been forced to treat her hair or wear weaves at previous jobs, which left her hair damaged and unhealthy, The Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Legislation documents state that there are “negative, lingering, cultural biases that frequently favor hairstyles and hair types that more closely resemble Eurocentric hair types and hair styles.”

Former City Councilwoman Alicia Reece, a Black woman, was the youngest person elected to the city council in 1999 and during her campaign, she wore her hair in braids. For her choice to wear the protective hairstyle, she said, she faced hateful comments about her appearance. She praised Seelbach for pushing this new ordinance.

Under the ordinance, the city will investigate any complaints about discrimination regarding hair. The offender could face up to $1,000 in fines — $100 a day — until the discriminatory behavior is fixed.

Cincinnati is the second city in the country to pass such an ordinance, after New York, which made hair discrimination illegal in February. California became the first state to specifically ban discrimination based on natural hair texture. It passed the CROWN Act (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) in July.

Related Story: Hair Discrimination is Now Illegal in New York

Related Story: CROWN Act: California Becomes First State to Ban Natural Hairstyle Discrimination

With more activism supporting Black men and women embracing their natural hair — including styles like bantu knots, braids and dreadlocks — there have still been some high-profile cases of natural hair discrimination across the country over the past few months.

In December, a New Jersey high school wrestling referee was caught on camera forcing a Black student to have his dreadlocks cut or forfeit the match. The boy humiliatingly had his locks sheared in front of a crowd but went on to win the match. Last month, the referee was suspended for two years due to his racist behavior.

Related Story: Racist Wrestling Referee Suspended For Two Years After Hair Cutting Debacle

Recently, a Black sixth-grader at the Immanuel Christian School in Virginia reported being pinned down by three white boys at recess who insulted her hair and cut off several of her dreadlocks.

Related Story: Three White Boys Held Black Girl Down and Cut Her Dreadlocks at Christian School

Though the advocates celebrated the new Cincinnati ordinance, Deborah Davis with the African American Chamber of Commerce said she found it upsetting a law was needed to prevent such discrimination, according to WCPO Cincinnati.

“What’s sad to me is that we have to have an ordinance to say that it’s acceptable for us to wear our hair in our natural state,” she said.

Latest News

The Dollar Divide

Too Poor to Die: The Rising Cost of Funerals 

Death is expensive.  For more than two decades, I have extensively written and reported about money-related content and even I was surprised at the cost of my mother’s funeral.  The median cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial is approximately $7,848. That doesn’t include the cost of the…

Video: How Companies Are Ensuring Equity for People With Disabilities

The National Organization on Disability held its annual forum in Washington, D.C. last week, bringing together community leaders, advocates, government officials and corporate leaders and influencers to focus on the advancement of people with disabilities in the workplace. DiversityInc also met up with leaders from Capital One Financial (No. 22…

CDO Series: Sysco’s Adrienne Trimble

Following the murder of George Floyd, the role of Chief Diversity Officers has become more important as companies started to be more intentional with their diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, which has made the last few years tumultuous for many CDOs. In the latest installment of a series of articles…

NOD Forum: Honoring the Disability Rights Movement

The road to disability rights has been a long one. One that started long before the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 was passed. In celebration of 40 years of the National Organization on Disability, disability leaders, supporters and activists gathered in Washington, D.C last week to discuss the…

5 Biggest News Stories of the Week: September 29

As the saying goes, the news never stops — but there’s a lot of it out there, and all of it doesn’t always pertain to our readers. In this weekly news roundup, we’ll cover the top news stories that matter most to our diversity focused audience. 1. Research Outlines Lack…

Marriott International building

Marriott International Receives 12 Platinum Honors at the MUSE Creative Awards

Originally published at Marriott International is a Hall of Fame company.   Marriott International’s unmatched portfolio of luxury brands earned 12 Platinum Awards representing 5 dynamic brands, across 10 categories in the 2022 MUSE Creative Awards — an international competition for creative professionals. The industry leader within the luxury…

Marriott International Debuts Its New Global Headquarters Focused on Wellbeing

Originally published at Marriott International is a Hall of Fame company.   After six years of planning, design and construction, Marriott International has opened its global headquarters in downtown Bethesda, Maryland. The 21-story, 785,000-square-foot, LEEDv4 Gold-certified building is the new workplace for corporate associates, supporting over 8,100 hotels in 139…