Is naturally-styled hair unprofessional? 2


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“Dreadlocks are unprofessional,” says the dean of Hampton University’s School of Business. He feels that male students, in particular, cannot “look the part” nor can they “land corporate jobs” with dreadlocks. Though this comment was made in a Black Enterprise article in August 2012, and the ban at Hampton University has been in effect since 2001, the situation is very relevant to many who style their hair in this manner.

Here’s my two cents…

I completely disagree about the unprofessional aspect and needing to “look the part.” Hair, for many people, is part of their identity. It helps make them who they are.

I guess because I’ve never had to have a job that requires me to physically change, I cannot understand the rationale. I have trouble understanding people being in anyway okay with the idea of discrimination in the workplace.

I was a recruiter for an educational system from 2006-2008 and not once did our team deny someone a chance to interview because we discriminated against his or her hair. Not one side conversation about a candidate was about hair, nails, clothing, or anything else besides their working abilities. An individual should not feel the need to change something that doesn’t interfere with his/her ability to handle the work load effectively.

What’s my current profession, you ask? I teach in a semi-diverse, yet predominately white-student-populated, school and I’m an adjunct professor at a local university. I’ve been teaching ten years overall with five being in this setting. My first year was my first time being the ONLY black female teacher in a school and I’ve been natural since day one. I wish someone would even suggest to me that my natural hair isn’t fit to effectively do my job of teaching children to LOVE everyone and be scholarly citizens. Or that it interferes with my ability to communicate with parents about the educational needs of their child.  Pure, unacceptable nonsense!

 

Might close-minded parents regard me differently upon first greeting me? Perhaps. Was I the first black teacher the majority of my students ever came across? Yep. But the parents and students quickly got over that and I’m their child’s teacher again this year (I loop with my students from 2nd to 3rd before going back to 2nd grade).

It’s completely inappropriate to tell our black students that they must wear “safe” hairstyles to fit in with their counterparts in America. Our hair tends to grow differently than those of other ethnicities so instead of banning it or claiming it to be a negative thing, embrace it and prove that hair does not make the person. Force others to focus on your character traits instead of your outer beauty. 

Instead of changing for a discriminating world, work on being the best YOU that you can be and they will one-by-one recognize that judging a book by its cover isn’t the best policy.

 

**Sidenote, wouldn’t it be great to see a diverse showing of hair styles on African Americans in the media more often? Straight, curly, kinky, braided, twisted, dreaded…there are so many choices and I hope one day they’re all equally accepted as the norm.

Thanks Tamron Hall for allowing Curly Nikki’s viewing audience to see your beautiful, natural hair!

Yeah, so that was way more than two cents…please share yours below!

 Picture this man with natural hair to help it relate a little better to the topic at hand 😉

 

Sources and other stories you should read:

Hampton business dean bans dreadlocks

Ohio school bans afro puffs and braids

Tamron Hall on curlynikki.com

12-year-old Vanessa Vandyke

7-year-old Tiana Parker

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