As I was preparing for interviews for my college internship, I constantly went back and forth on how I would wear my hair for the big interview day. At that time, I was transitioning my hair to natural or in lame terms, no more “creamy white crack” (perms/relaxers). Everyone knows there is a time in your natural hair journey where you do not know what to do with your hair. It’s normal to attend class with bantu knots, head wraps, or a baseball cap covering up the craziness of your hair, but what do you do when you have to be professional?
With black hair, we can switch up our hair from cornrows to bundles, curly afro to bald. Do you wear your beautiful big afro? Or do you straighten your hair? Well corporate America does not agree with the numerous professional natural hairstyles that Black women and men wear in a workplace. Some naturalistas do not want to straighten their beautiful kinks because humid is not your best friend and it’s their choice on how they wear their hair. So why not just wear a wig or get a sew-in? Again, not all women like to wear extensions. I love to feel my scalp so sew-ins is not always my go-to hairstyle. Well during my interview process I wore freestyle braids, straightened my natural hair, and eventually got a sew-in. It wasn’t until my mentor at the time told me the unspoken rule among for black women, “Straight hair for the interview, natural hair once you’re in the door.” Look how they want you to look for the interview, once you secure the job rock your twist out. Co-founder of Miss Jessie’s products, Miko Branch comfort black women by telling them “to view the way they must wear their hair as a part of their uniform, “If going to another job is not an option, I think we have to change our thinking about it.”
Here are some excerpts from professional Black women about natural hair being bias in the workplace from Teen Vogue.
“Patients with hair loss who wear a different hair style than I do, suggest that I am not able to help with their problems because of my natural hairstyle. Would the same standards be applied to the competence of a man, or a person of another race, who also chose a different hair style for themselves?” – Dina S, an Ivy-League dermatologist from New York City
“In my honors business program in college we were told that our hair needed to be ‘well-kept’. They specifically told men to stay away from braids and long hair, and while they didn’t tell women not to have natural hair, it was inferred that it should be straight.”
“As a financial advisor, I often wore my hair in a twist out. One day, while I was in the office, an older white colleague jokingly told me that he thought [NFL player] Kenny Bell was in our office for the day. I had hoped to shadow his practice as he’d been with the company for nearly 30 years and was pretty successful, but after that encounter I scratched that hope.”
“In that same office, on another day, I had a coworker tell me that my crazy hair looked like Krusty the Klown from the Simpsons — in front of a meeting room full of people.”– Ariel W, finance professional
“Before entering, a member of the Leadership team quietly pulled me aside and asked me if I was going to change my hair before the presentation that evening, Can you pull it back into a ponytail?” – Jasmin F, career consultant in Altanta, GA
If you are in Houston, Texas next week, check out the Natural Hair Club at Texas Southern University, their goal is to inspire, motivate and educate people on natural hair. @txsu_kinks
Originally blogged on Campus Lately