NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Assemblymembers Charles D. Fall, Latoya Joyner and Diana Richardson most recently sent a joint letter to New York Secretary of State Hon. Rossana Rosado calling for the appointment of an African hair braider to the New York Department of State’s Appearance Enhancement Advisory Committee.

“As a strong proponent of ensuring equal access and opportunity regardless of race and hair texture, I am proud to have voted in favor of New York becoming the second state to outlaw discrimination based on natural hairstyles,” said Assemblyman Fall.

The State Appearance Enhancement Advisory Committee (read: the advisory board for the cosmetology industry in New York State) is comprised of up to 9 industry professionals who work on a volunteer basis with the state’s Division of Licensing Services. Together, and often times working with other state agencies, they make recommendations for improving the industry and raising the level of professionalism through policy & procedure updates, education, enforcement and communication.

Stringer and the assembly members say the board needs to be more culturally inclusive, noting the lack of adequate representation of a natural hair braider on the Committee. Stringer and his elected colleagues said this lack of representation has resulted in a disconnect with immigrant communities and communities of color, particularly African immigrant women hair stylists who often face language access barriers, arduous regulatory hurdles, and costly fines as part of licensing and training to become hair stylists.

The letter calls on the State to make government more responsive to the needs of the African immigrant community.

“… Due to barriers in language access, immigrant hair braiders are not fully aware of existing and newly introduced regulations, often resulting in costly fines and impacting the livelihoods of thousands of African immigrant women across New York,” the group wrote in the letter to Rosado. “We share the concern that these antiquated regulations unfairly target black and immigrant hair stylists and must be addressed in the New Year.”

African Hair Braiding Shop on New Lots Avenue in East New York

“As a strong proponent of ensuring equal access and opportunity regardless of race and hair texture, I am proud to have voted in favor of New York becoming the second state to outlaw discrimination based on natural hairstyles,” said Assemblyman Fall in a press statement. “Appointing an African hair braider to the New York State Appearance Enhancement Advisory Board is a small but monumental step in promoting culturally diverse business practices that will help small businesses succeed.” 

To read the elected officials’ letter to the New York Department of State, go here.

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