Hair discrimination is a form of racial discrimination, and this urgently requires greater recognition. For far too long, institutional policies have been allowed to push Black children, adults and those of Black heritage to conform and mirror Eurocentric hairstyles, often damaging their natural hair in the process.
There have been many hair discrimination cases here in the UK, and we find the continuing need to convey such cases unacceptable. The repeated failure to understand the issues affecting Black hair is a typical occurrence when dealing with a variety of institutions, and based on this, we have written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission to ask them to issue official guidance about hair discrimination. The letter has been co-signed by many renowned organisations and names, including Wera Hobhouse MP, Lord Simon Woolley, Emma Dabiri, Ruby Williams, The National Hair and Beauty Federation, The British Beauty Council, GLAMOUR Magazine, The Equality Act Review, Dove, Unilever, Pantene, Proctor & Gamble, Shea Moisture, Enact Equality, The Halo Collective, The Advocacy Academy, EqualiTeach and Diverse Educators.
There are several reasons why this will improve the current climate regarding hair discrimination, primarily that it can help guarantee recourse for those affected by this form of discrimination. Other reasons include that:
· The guidance will raise awareness of hair discrimination in the UK, highlighting this as a serious legal issue
· The guidance will improve the UK’s understanding of other forms of racism and lead hopefully towards the dismantling of systemic racism in the UK
· The guidance will encourage educational and workplace establishments to rethink their concepts of ‘professionalism’ and work towards adopting more inclusive policies, which encourage and celebrate racial diversity
· The guidance will help ensure that equality laws are in line with the ever-changing locus of UK society
We sincerely hope that the Commission considers this call to action, and we look forward to their response. We would be more than happy to work with the Commission, not only to create such guidance, but also to formulate a more long-term strategy for a better future.
Kim Johnson MP
Officer of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education
Founder of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Race Equality in Education
Co-Founder and Legal and Political Organiser of the Halo Collective