Showing posts with label Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. Show all posts

Friday, December 20, 2019

Hair based discrimination now illegal in New Jersey

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed S3945, also known as the "Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair Act" (CROWN Act), which clarifies that prohibited race discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.” The law was introduced after Andrew Johnson, an African-American high school wrestler at Buena Regional High School, was forced to cut off his dreadlocks in order to compete in a match on December 19, 2018 -- exactly one year ago today.

“Race-based discrimination will not be tolerated in the State of New Jersey.” said Governor Murphy. “No one should be made to feel uncomfortable or be discriminated against because of their natural hair. I am proud to sign this law in order to help ensure that all New Jersey residents can go to work, school, or participate in athletic events with dignity."

“I’m grateful to Governor Murphy for signing this important legislation and applaud Senator Sandra B. Cunningham and Assemblywoman Angela McKnight, who led the CROWN Act and Crown Coalition advocate Adjoa B. Asamoah, who worked tirelessly to end the implicit and explicit biases against natural hair,” said U.S. Senator Cory Booker. “Discrimination against black hair is discrimination against black people and no one should be denied a job, an education, or face discrimination because of their hairstyle.”

“We’re pleased that the Governor and the Legislature have codified the interpretation set out in our guidance document from earlier this year: Race discrimination includes discrimination based on traits inextricably intertwined or closely associated with race, including hairstyle,” said New Jersey Division on Civil Rights Director Rachel Wainer Apter. “Employers, housing providers, and places open to the public, including schools, cannot police natural black hairstyles.”

The CROWN Act updates the "Law Against Discrimination" to clarify that prohibited race discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of “traits historically associated with race, including, but not limited to, hair texture, hair type, and protective hairstyles.” As defined in the bill, the term “protective hairstyles” includes, but is not limited to, “such hairstyles as braids, locks, and twists.” This change is intended to remove any confusion or ambiguity over the scope of the Law Against Discrimination and its applicability to race discrimination predicated on such traits.

Primary sponsors of the bill include Senators Sandra B. Cunningham, Nia H. Gill, and Shirley K. Turner and Assemblymembers Angela McKnight, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson, Shanique Speight, and Britnee Timberlake.

"I am proud to see New Jersey become just the third state in the nation to put an end to this discriminatory practice. This law will ensure people of color are free to wear their hair however they feel best represents them, whether that be locks, braids, twists or curls. No one should ever be told it is ‘unprofessional’ to embrace their culture,” said Senator Cunningham. “It is unacceptable that someone could be dismissed from school or denied employment because they wear their hair exactly how it grows, but that has been the reality for many black and brown individuals. Today, here in New Jersey, we've changed that.”

“We should not tolerate discrimination in any form and this law protects the civil rights of all peoples,” said Senator Gill.

In the last few years, we have seen several cases in New Jersey and around the country where children were sent home from school, or denied participation in extracurricular activities because of how they choose to wear their hair,” said Senator Turner. “Hair discrimination policies, rooted in Eurocentric beauty standards, have no place in our schools or our workplaces. It is time we get rid of them once and for all.”

“Unfortunately, it’s all too common for African-Americans and people of color to be subjected to discrimination at work or school for wearing their hair in braids, twists, and dreadlocks or embracing their natural curls,” said Assemblywoman McKnight. “A student at Buena Regional High School in New Jersey was forced by a referee at a wrestling tournament to either cut his dreadlocks or forfeit the match to comply with association rules. With this law, the student would have been protected from this kind of discrimination.”

“If a person of color wants to embrace their cultural identity by wearing their hair in a certain style, they should be free to do so without fear of prejudice,” said Assemblywoman Reynolds-Jackson. “No one should be told to straighten, cut or change their hair in any way to meet certain norms. It’s time we enshrine these values into our law.”

“It’s almost unbelievable to think that in 2019, people face discrimination because of the way they wear their hair, or because of how their hair naturally looks,” said Assemblywoman Speight. “For many people, their hair is a reflection of who they are, and everyone should have freedom to be who they are, and be protected from racial bias.”

“Every person in New Jersey, regardless of their race, should be able to wear their hair with dignity and without discrimination,” said Assemblywoman Timberlake. “This law seeks to give added protections to communities of color and prevent prejudice and discrimination in the workplace and in the hiring process.”

“We thank Governor Murphy and the legislature for passing the CROWN Act in this historic week of legislation that is affecting the lives of New Jerseyans in general and New Jerseyans of color in particular,” said Amol Sinha, Executive Director of ACLU-NJ. “While natural hair might seem like an irrelevant front in the never ending battle against discrimination, we know that hair discrimination is too often used as a proxy for racism in ways that directly impact the success of people of color in schools, courtrooms, and board rooms. Adding hair discrimination to the protections offered in the Law Against Discrimination is an influential recognition of the myriad ways that racism expresses itself and provides people with a powerful tool to combat it.”

Friday, November 15, 2019

NJ state legislators introduce bill to form ‘New Jersey Reparations Task Force’

Trenton – Senator Ronald Rice, Senator Sandra B. Cunningham, Assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter, Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake and the Legislative Black Caucus introduced legislation today, which would establish the “New Jersey Reparations Task Force.” The task force would conduct research and develop proposals and recommendations to address the generational harms caused by the state’s role in the institution of slavery and its legacy of systemic racial discrimination.

“The existence and history of slavery in the United States is the greatest evil our country ever committed. The continuation of systemic and institutional racism spanning from the emancipation of slaves to the present continues the darkest part of history,” said Senator Rice (D-Essex). “I believe the country is ready to have a conversation on the history of slavery and racism in this country, giving us a special opportunity to research New Jersey’s role in slavery and develop reparations proposals for African Americans in New Jersey.”

“This is an incredible first step in righting our country’s greatest wrong. We will never see true equality if we do not take responsibility for the many ways slavery has shaped the socioeconomics of our country,” said Senator Cunningham (D-Hudson). “I hope this legislation will inspire other states to take action as well. The institution of slavery has impacted every aspect of our democracy since this nation’s founding and it is time we finally take a good hard look at the damage it has done.”

“New Jersey was not removed from the harm and ill effects of slavery. Slavery was not just a southern institution. In the 17th Century there were laws on the books that grossly impacted Africans which effects may still be felt today,” said Assemblywoman Sumter (D-Bergen/Passaic). “Among the disparities experienced by African Americans include curfew laws, economic injustices, redlining for home purchases, inferior public education and health inequities with environmental injustices. We are seeking to have the brightest minds serve on the Task Force to identify the impacts of slavery and the opportunities for restorative justice.”

“We can see the impact of slavery and how we have been disenfranchised long after the impacts of slavery,” said Assemblywoman Timberlake (D-Essex/Passaic). “This bill serves to explore how reparations in our modern world would look through education, through housing, and other fitting options that mirror the times we live in today. Through the creation of this legislation, we hope to restore and repair communities that have been systematically broken.”

The task force would be made up of members appointed by the Governor, Legislative leaders, as well as four public members recommended by organizations concerned with the issues of civil rights, human rights, racial, social and economic justice and equality, reparations and other issues concerning the African American community.

The task force would examine the role New Jersey played in slavery and study the lingering negative effects of slavery on African Americans and society. They would also research methods and materials for facilitating education, community dialogue, symbolic acknowledgement and other formal actions. Ultimately they would recommend reparation remedies to achieve a sense of social and economic justice among the descendants of enslaved African people in New Jersey.

When the final report is issued, the task force would disband.