The Miami Beach City Commission on Wednesday voted unanimously to prohibit discriminatory practices “based on the texture or style of a person’s hair,” according to a news release.
The new ordinance bans discrimination based on a person’s hair when seeking housing, employment, public services, funding or use of facilities across the city, the news release from Miami Beach city officials said.
“The city’s human rights ordinance already prohibited discrimination on the basis of various characteristics, including weight and height,” said the news release. Wednesday’s unanimous vote “expanded those protections to now include hair texture associated with race, such as braids, locks, afros, curls and twists,” said city officials.
“Race-based hair discrimination stems from a perception that straight hair is clean, neat and professional while the opposite belief applies to textured or curly hair types,” according to Alan Fishman, who chairs the city’s Human Rights Committee.
The new ordinance stems from a motion made by the committee during an April 2021 meeting, according to a city agenda. In a May 2021 letter to the mayor and commission, the city manager informed officials of the motion and said, “a growing number of state and local legislatures are enacting laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of natural hair style and texture.”
In December 2020, Broward County, Florida, commissioners voted to include braids, locks, twists, Bantu knots and head wraps on the county’s protection classifications – banning discrimination on the basis of hair.
“Hair discrimination affects Black Americans and other minorities with textured natural hair that has not been straightened or chemically changed,” said the Miami Beach city manager’s letter.
The city heard public comment on May 17, 2022, “then voted affirmatively to direct the City Attorney and the Human Resources Department, with consultation of the Fire Chief, Police Chief and Human Rights Committee, to present a draft ordinance to the City Commission,” according to a meeting agenda.
“It’s unacceptable in 2022 that Black Americans and other minorities still face discrimination based on something so trivial as whether or not they have textured or curly hair,” said Miami Beach Vice Mayor Alex Fernandez in the news release.
A 2020 Michigan State University study found about 80% of Black women say they alter their hair from its natural state because they consider it essential to social and economic success, CNN has reported.
“We don’t want anyone to feel pressure to change their natural hair texture or hairstyle if they want to work, live or play in the City of Miami Beach,” said Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez.