Hair Discrimination

Published: 2.20.2019
Level 4   |   Time: 2:03
Accent: Canadian
BBC Global News Podcast (2.16.2019)

A new law in New York has made it illegal to discriminate based on hair.


You can download the file [ HERE ].


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary.
  2. LISTEN to the audio.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary

  • guidelines [n] - rules
  • discrimination [n] - the unfair treatment of people based on race, age, or sex
  • a policy [n] - a rule
  • dreadlocks [n] - a hair style [image]
  • locks [n] - a hair style [image]
  • braided [adj] - a hair style [image]
  • braids [n] - a hair style [image]
  • a referee [n] - an official who watches a sports game to enforce the rules
  • a match [n] - a game
  • forfeit [v] - lose property or rights as a penalty for doing something wrong
  • deem [v] - decide
  • a case [n] - a legal action to be decided by a court of law
  • s firm [n] - a company
  • receive damages [exp] - be paid money as a penalty
  • hit out at [phv] - fights agaisnt
  • formal settings [exp] - professional situations
  • explicit [exp] - said directly
  • implicit [exp] - said indirectly
  • a civil-rights lawyer [n] - a lawyer focused on equality, human rights, social freedom, and discrimination
  • a woman of color [n] - an woman who is not Caucasian (white)
  • inherently [adv] - in a permanent, essential, or characteristic way
  • pernicious [adj] - having a harmful effect in a gradual or subtle way
  • roll back [phv] - cancel, remove
  • twists [n] - a hair style [image]
  • controversial [adj] - causing disagreement.

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions

  1. Which city has banned discrimination based on hair?
    New England
    New Jersey
    New York City

  2. Which group of people is the ban designed to protect?
    Hair stylists

  3. How long has Afro hair been discriminated against?
    For the last few years
    For decades
    For centuries

  4. What did a sports referee want a football player to do in New Jersey?
    Play without a helmet
    Cut off his dreadlocks
    Go home

  5. Why was a student in Louisiana sent home from school?
    She hadn't done her homework.
    She had unnatural braids
    She was misbehaving

  6. How old was this student?

  7. Why was a woman in Alabama refused a job offer at an insurance company?
    She refused to cut her hair.
    She was unqualified for the job.
    She didn't have a university degree.

  8. According to the new New York law, what can happen if a firm discriminates based on hair?
    Firms can force people to cut their hair.
    Firms can receive fines.
    The managers of firms can be put in jail.
    Firms can be forced to rehire people.

  9. According to the reporter, what is the racist belief about hairstyles commonly held across the US?
    Black hairstyles are not professional.
    Having long hair makes people smarter.
    Afro-hair is difficult to manage.

  10. What is Ría Tabacco Mar's job?
    She is a singer.
    She is a hairstylist.
    She is a lawyer.

  11. How does she describe herself?
    A person of color
    Having locks

  12. What has she experienced?
    Losing her job because of her hair
    Racist comments about her hair
    Being asked to cut her hair

  13. What US army regulation was recently canceled?
    A ban on dreadlocks
    A ban on discrimination based on hair
    A ban on curly hair

triangle Script

Now for something different

That's the song "Don't touch my hair" by Solange Knowles. And it's a song whose message can be felt in new guidelines just revealed in New York City. The city's officials have banned discrimination on the basis of hair - a policy primarily designed to support African-Americans who say they are frequent targets. Sophie Eastwood reports.

Dreadlocks braided or straightened, Afro hair has been the subject of discrimination and social pressure for centuries. Countless examples show that it continues to be so today. In December, a referee forced a New Jersey high school student to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit the match. Last August, a school in Louisiana sent an 11-year old girl home for having braids they deemed unnatural. And last spring, the US Supreme Court declined to review the case of an Alabama woman whose job offer at an insurance company was cancelled after she refused to cut her locks.

Now New York City's Human Rights Commission has become the first in the country to make it illegal to discriminate against a person for their hairstyle. Firms can be fined and ordered to rehire. Employees can receive damages. The policy hits out at what it calls a widespread and fundamentally racist belief that black hairstyles are not appropriate for formal settings.

Ria Tobacco Mar, a civil rights lawyer in the city, welcomed the move.

I myself am a woman of color. I do wear my hair in locks. And I have experience comments, both explicit and implicit, suggesting that natural black hair is inherently not professional. And that's exactly the kind of pernicious racial stereotype that anti-discrimination laws are meant to prevent.

Last year, the US Army rolled back controversial regulations banning dreadlocks and twists after outrage from African-American soldiers.

Sophie Eastwood.

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