Black Women Hair In The Workplace: Is it Still A Problem?

Over the years, black women have navigated workplaces that question and dissect their physical appearance. This is despite the continuous growth of the natural hair movement and greater global acceptance of Black women wearing their natural hair at their workplaces.

As a matter of fact, Black women are forced to adhere to white beauty standards.  A recent study by Dove, a beauty company, revealed that  black women are 80 percent more likely to change their natural hair to meet social norms or workplace expectations.

Black Women Hair in the Workplace

Several cases of racial discrimination in the workplace around natural hair abound. Once upon a time, a federal court ruled that it was legal for employers to ban dreadlocks, and Black women were getting sacked from their jobs because of the natural styles they chose to wear.

This trend held sway even in the public service. For example, before a recent review of the grooming and appearance regulations in the United States Army, all the Black women who served in the Army were not allowed to wear their natural hair on the job.

It took the publicized case of Chastity Jones(and other such cases) to effect a ban on hair-related workplace discrimination. Jones lost her job because she refused to cut her hair. She then appealed to the Supreme Court, and eventually, a bill (aptly named the CROWN Act) was passed to stop the operation of dress codes and grooming guidelines that outlawed natural hairstyles.

Is Black Women Hair Still A Problem in The Workplace

Yes and no. It is relative to the workplace and the individuals involved. Black women who wear their natural hair in American corporate workplaces are known to deal with blank stares, whispers and stereotyping mindless questions and actions, and microaggressions in the workplace from colleagues and bosses who are anything but black.

 For some of these Black women, the thought of wearing natural hair to work generates a lasting sense of shame and fear in their minds. There is a lot of stereotyping and the tendency to gauge performance, work ethics, and competence by the way a Black woman wears her natural hair. Going to work with a natural hairstyle is considered.

On the flip side, such discrimination is less blatant in some workplaces that are liberal enough to accept that wearing natural hair does not in any way define or detract from the quality of work or professionalism of the Black woman.

Wearing natural locks to work is more than just a fashion statement to some women at the workplace. It is something of a statement of pride in, and acceptance of self. This is why some women in positions of power in this liberal workplaces, wear their natural hair when they chose to.

Takeaway

While it is not yet “Uhuru” for Black women facing hair-related discrimination in the corporate world, there is a change in awareness, and in the near future Black women will no longer have to worry about hairstyles at the workplace.

 

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