Thandie Newton is celebrating a new change in New York City law by revealing her own past discrimination.
Earlier this month, the city’s Human Rights Commission passed a protection that prohibits discrimination based on a person’s hairstyle.
“Woohoo!!!!!!! Take THAT the nuns at my primary school !!” the “Westworld” actress, 46, wrote on Twitter. “I wasn’t permitted to have my photo taken on School Photo Day because Mum had given me beautiful rows of braids the night before – specifically to make me look my best. Now hair descrimination [sic] is illegal in NYC. Bliss x.”
Though it covers everyone, the guideline is meant to specifically address racism against black people and was sparked by a New Jersey referee who ordered a high-school wrestler to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit a bout.
The law specifically affirms the right of New Yorkers to maintain their “natural hair, treated or untreated hairstyles such as locs, cornrows, twists, braids, Bantu knots, fades, Afros, and/or the right to keep hair in an uncut or untrimmed state.” The city commission can impose penalties up to $250,000 on those that are found in violation and there is no cap on damages.
This isn’t the first time that Newton has told this story. In 2012, she told NBC, “I remember when I was seven at my convent school, it was school photo day so all the kids came looking their best. Mum did my hair in 20 or so cornrows with green wooden beads on each end to match my school uniform. The nuns were appalled, they wouldn’t let me have my picture taken.” She added, “I felt embarrassed, disappointed, ashamed. Can you imagine how my mum must have felt?”
She also said that she let her own hair and her daughters’ hair grow naturally without chemical relaxers after seeing Chris Rock‘s movie “Good Hair” where she learned that the majority of straightening products contain enough lye to dissolve a Coke can.
“I didn’t want my daughters to judge their beautiful curls,” she said. With the new protection in New York, they are free to wear curls or braids without fear.