Caribbean Matters: The fight against Black hair discrimination meets the Puerto Rican Senate

Caribbean Matters: The fight against Black hair discrimination meets the Puerto Rican Senate

We’ve all seen the stories by now: Black students are punished for their hair again and again, while Black men and Black women encounter bias in the workplace when the hair that grows from their head—and the styles best for that hair—don’t conform with appearance expectations shaped by and based on white hair.

As the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund explains“Hair discrimination is rooted in systemic racism, and often helps preserve white spaces. Policies that further hair discrimination advance white Anglo-Saxon Protestant cultural norms as the default norms to which everyone should adhere. Hair and grooming policies that prohibit natural hairstyles—like afros, braids, bantu knots, and locs—have been used to justify the removal of Black children from classrooms and Black adults from their employment.”

Natural hair discrimination is an issue that deeply affects Black people not just in the United States, but throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, and around the globe. That’s why Puerto Rican Sen. Ana Irma Rivera Lassén has co-authored a bill with Sen. Rafael Bernabe to address racial discrimination on the island against Black Puerto Ricans who wear their hair in natural styles. This bill covers issues addressed in the mainland movement to pass The Crown Act.

Caribbean Matters is a weekly series from Daily Kos. If you are unfamiliar with the region, check out Caribbean Matters: Getting to know the countries of the Caribbean.

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