Fayetteville city council considers policy which prohibits race-based hair discrimination

Michael Lozano Image
Thursday, March 4, 2021
Fayetteville considers policy which prohibits hair discrimination
The city of Fayetteville is eyeing a new policy that looks to abolish workplace discrimination on one front by looking at your work ethic versus the way you wear your hair.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- The city of Fayetteville is looking into adding a policy that would prohibit race-based hair discrimination within employment and other city-related matters.

On Monday evening, during a special work session, Councilwomen Shakeyla Ingram, Tisha Waddell, and Courtney Banks-McLaughlin presented a resolution in support of the adoption of the CROWN Act or other legislation that would prohibit such discrimination. The resolution was passed by the majority of city council to be looked at further.

The CROWN Act, also known as "Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair' Act, is a nationally known movement and law that other states have adopted.

Right now, cities like Durham and Greensboro have already adopted similar policies. In the General Assembly, two bills, SB 165 and HB 170, are considering the CROWN Act.

Discrimination on the basis of hairstyle is set to be illegal in Durham in a few short months.

Councilwoman Banks-McLaughlin tells ABC11 its a law that should be implemented in the city of Fayetteville, "that should be the biggest thing. What you can bring to the table, your work ethic. Not the way you wear your hair."

According to the resolution that was presented on Monday, if the personnel policies are updated, it would "prohibit discrimination in employment, public accommodations, and fair housing access. The "protected hairstyles" would include any hairstyle, hair type, or hair texture historically associated with race, including: braids, locks, twists, tight coils or curls, cornrows, Bantu knots, and afros."

For Tressa Evans, the owner of Natural Genius Salon, a Black-owned salon in downtown Fayetteville, she sees first hand the trouble Black men and women have to go through in order to fit a work environment.

"We pretty much have to do people's hair, at times, based on their profession," Evans said. The long-time salon owner recounts stories some of her clients have told her over the years, "people say, 'oh, like, you don't have a real profession. You can't have a real profession,' if my hair's blue or green."

Banks-McLaughlin says, with Fayetteville being such a diverse city, the differences and uniqueness of types of hair should not prevent someone from getting a job.

"Someone else should not be able to make that determination on how you represent yourself," Banks-McLaughlin said.

It's a choice that Bianca Brooks, a braider and lock technician at Natural Genius Salon, says should be on the table for the employee.

"If someone's black and they want to have purple hair, yellow hair, or, even if they want to have chemically straightened hair, they should have that choice," Brooks said.

Banks-McLaughlin tells ABC11 that city staff are currently evaluating their policies. Once that's completed, they will come back to city council for an official vote.