In a move to ban a pervasive form of racial discrimination, we strongly supported a piece of legislation which would have expanded the definition of race under our state anti-discrimination laws to include “traits historically associated with race,” importantly including hair texture and protective hairstyles. Stories of, for example, young Black students being disciplined or suspended due to their hairstyles are distressingly common; this bill would have explicitly specified that such biases, however unconscious they may be, are not allowed in Rhode Island, and would have protected these incidents of racial discrimination under our anti-discrimination statutes. Unfortunately, the bill died in committee.
Ban on Hairstyle Discrimination (S 539)
Senator Tiara Mack
Died in Committee