Is the texture or style of your hair preventing you from being hired? Sounds like a pretty silly question, however it was precisely the topic at hand during a panel discussion entitled “Black Women, Their Hair & The Work Place – A Dialogue” at Georgia State University.
Approximately 100 women gathered last week to contemplate the idea that their skills, talent and intelligence could be overshadowed by a hairstyle. And more often than not, the concern is based on women of color sporting their natural hair.
Yes, the hair that grows naturally from the roots of our heads could be contributing to the growing unemployment rates. Baffling.
Men are not immune to this hairy situation either. Last Summer, Hampton University issued a ban on cornrows and dreadlocks for male business students.
“You’re talking about being polished and (having) interview skills and yet no one is addressing the fact that natural black hair has been traditionally seen as not polished on its own whether it’s well cared for or not,” Nakisha McNeal, a student at the GSU Robinson College of Business, told SaportaReport. “So basically it’s all about maintaining the Eurocentric standpoint.”
This stance sadly echoes the stereotypes that we've fought against, and the personal freedoms we've strived to gain for so long. In fact, they're fighting words.
Case in point, take the firestorm that ensued a few years ago when a white Glamour magazine editor told a group of women at a New York law firm that afros were a "no-no", and that a "political" hairstyle like dreadlocks was inappropriate for the workplace. Black women were outraged and the comments got the editor six weeks on probation and ultimately resulted in her resignation.
Or when controversy stirred after meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired from her post at Louisiana's KTBS news channel after defending her right to rock her short natural hairstyle via the television station's Facebook page.
As more and more women have decided to embrace their natural hair, we hope that potential employers' prejudice regarding our hair's kinks and curls will subside. It would be a shame to see women celebrating their curls personally and having to downplay them professionally.
How do you feel about sporting natural hair (locs, afros, curls, braids, etc) in the workplace? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.
CORRECTION: In a previous version of this article the quote from the SaportaReport was attributed to James "Jay" Bailey. It has since been fixed to reflect the correct source, Nakisha McNeal.