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Ingham County Becomes First In The State To Ban Hair-Based Discrimination

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Ingham County has become the first in the state to ban hair-based discrimination. 

The Ingham County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the resolution Tuesday.

It redefines race in the county’s Equal Opportunity Plan to include traits historically associated with race, like hair texture and protective hairstyles.

Those could be braids, locks, or twists.

The resolution by the Board of Commissioners protects all county employees. The policy doesn’t extend to other employers, public or private, in the county.

Commissioner Derrell Slaughter supported the resolution. He said he’s seen hair-based discrimination affect family and friends.

"Being a Black person and having my mom and aunts, I’ve heard for years and years stories of having to conform or change their hair because their supervisor didn’t think it was appropriate or up to the company’s standards, when we really knew it was about race," he said.

Slaughter said he was inspired by the nationwide campaign for the “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural hair,” or CROWN Act and its Michigan sponsor.

"Seeing our local leadership or our state Representative Sarah Anthony taking on the lead and really highlighting it. I think it provided a blueprint or path for how we could do it at the local level," he said.

Anthony has introduced a similar measure that would amend the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act.

RELATED: CROWN Act Would Protect Black Michiganders From Hair-Based Discrimination

She is applauding Ingham County for passing the resolution. The Lansing Democrat said she hopes this will encourage other municipalities to consider adding these protections for their residents. 

"This is something that is an issue in schools as well," she said. "So, I challenge school boards, city councils, to also look at this issue — and again — bring us one step closer to more equitable and more inclusive workplaces and education institutions."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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