Twists outs, Wash and Go’s, Hi-puffs, The L.O.C Method, you name it, these styles, to list a few, black women have explored to embrace the texture of their God-given kinks curls, and waves. And let’s face it, somewhere along the line they have endured the multi-step regimens that come along with caring for their natural hair. Embracing natural hair has not only become a movement but has evolved into a celebration. YET, it stills remains as a focal point of dispute for many. Why is it, that in a world filled with social media postings from both qualified and celebrity stylist who support natural hair care, and businesses that sale all natural products for natural hair….there is still an alarming amount of black women who don’t feel comfortable enough to wear their natural hair out in the workplace. Why is that? Is it because they fear being judged? Is it because they fear of being reprimanded by their manager? I guess as Jay-Z would say “Time to remind me I’m Black again huh!”
Welp, Luckily for New York City and cities in California, they are moving past the hair discrimination. If you haven’t heard the news, the New York City Commission on Human Rights instituted a new law that bans discrimination by employers, schools and other public places, in which they are not to discriminate based upon someone’s hairstyle. Generally speaking this law is to protect African Americans who have dealt with hair discrimination and have even been fired due to their hair. With this new law in place, companies can be fined up to $250,000.00. Fortunately, for me, I have yet to deal with hair discrimination in my few years of work, let alone in my place of work. I come to work every week with a new hairstyle, whether it be my 4C* TWA* fro, lace wigs, crotchet braids,or box braids. And the best part of it all, my co-workers embrace the change and LOOOVVEE when I wear my natural hair out. But I wanted to put myself in the shoes of other’s who aren’t as lucky to get that type of treatment. I guess kind of as a back story, I decided to go natural 6 years ago, due to a bad perm and a horrible hair cut. I took it upon myself that natural was the way to go and of course not only did I learn various hairstyles to wear but products that my hair liked and didn’t like. This took time and plenty of patience.
So I wanted to understand other people’s perspective to natural hair and the work place, since my experience has been nothing but positive. I spoke to a few people of different career backgrounds, one being Television,Military, and Education. Surprisingly enough, each response was different. When I spoke to someone who works the news, to keep things short, appearance matters. One thing that they said to me that caught my attention and still goes through my head today: distracting. Of course with quick reflexes and a mix of protection for my natural hair I immediately blurted out “WHAT IS SO DISTRACTING ABOUT NATURAL HAIR?!?!” The explanation kinda went like this… “to you and I, nothing. But for those who are not use to it and fail to research about it..everything.” I guess working in the communication field, I never realized the difference in between the fields when it came to appearance. The smallest change, like switching from glasses to contacts could throw television viewers off, but not in radio. In fact, unless I post something or say it on air, you wouldn’t know if I was wearing glasses or not. The other’s had a different experience as well. In the Education department, being natural is fine, of course though it must be ‘neatly groomed’. And lastly the military does come with it’s standard procedures, that are way too in depth for me to get into in one blog.
Overall, walking away from hearing other people’s experience, I started to question my own subconscious and if I was or am scared to wear my natural hair out in certain instances. Well let’s just put it like this, I wore a wig during the interview process for my current job and it took months before I actually felt comfortable with wearing my fro and big hoop earrings. Hopefully our society will continue to move forward with the natural hair movement, and we continue to embrace it.
*4C- a type of natural hairstyle.
*TWA – Teeny Weeny Afro.. Side Note..everyone has their own definition of tiny is.