May 17, 2010

Natural Hair And the Workplace

The other day I asked my manager if she would hire a female with locs and she immediately said no. When I asked why she responded that it was company policy that she couldn't do it. I was slightly shocked, because some religions (Rastafarian) often lock their hair because:

  • the biblical command not to cut one's hair (Leviticus 21:5)

  • the appearance of the lion's mane, representing strength, Africa, Ethiopia, and the Lion of Judah

  • naturalness and simplicity, which are associated with Africa

  • the Rasta's roots in Africa
So now what it has gone from not hiring those who choose to loc their hair to not hiring an entire religion, I could only imagine how those who loc must feel in the job hiring process, I already know for a fact what it's like to apply for jobs with my TWA, and often end up wearing a wig. When will the discrimination stop? Why aren't we accepted for our hair, skin and culture as a whole? We are finally embracing ourselves, do we have to wait another 100 years for others to embrace us also? Is relaxing our hair the only way to relax those around us? I feel as though I'm asking all these questions that will never get answers. I know for women who wear their hair in Afro's that we ave the option to straighten or even wear a weave or wig, Loc'ers don't have the option to be that versatile when it comes to becoming a chameleon in the work place.

Examples Of Loc Discrimination:
  • EXAMPLE #1 2000: Federal Express Corporation, better known as FedEx, fires several of its New York employees who refuse to cut their dreadlocks. They cite religious expression but FedEx shows them the door. In 2006, FedEx reaches a settlement which includes recognizing dreadlocks worn for religious reasons.

  • EXAMPLE #2 2004: There is a different discrimination type too, such as that faced by children in schools. Picture your school board transferring you to another school because of a hairstyle. That's exactly what happened in Trinidad when a 12-year-old girl showed up for school with dreadlocks. Like the example above, she too was Rastafarian.

There are also different loc styles that you can try in order to make your appearance look more professional

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