In my last post, I introduced the topic of natural hair in the workplace. For any individual who has transitioned to natural hair or is considering the switch, I think this is a very relevant subject. One thing I’ve struggled with since transitioning to natural hair is finding hairstyles that I feel are appropriate and professional enough for the workplace. I oftentimes struggle with wearing natural styles since I’ve been told that I look more appropriate with straight hair. It seems that feedback like this is fairly common for natural women. There have been multiple cases where women have been scrutinized or punished as a result of wearing their natural hair.
Meteorologist, Rhonda Lee, was fired shortly after responding to a Louisiana viewer’s comments regarding her natural hair. After responding “I’m sorry you don’t like my ethnic hair. And no I don’t have cancer,” as well as “I am very proud of my African-American ancestry which includes my hair. For your edification: traditionally our hair doesn’t grow downward. It grows upward,” she was terminated from her position with claims that she had violated company procedure by responding to a viewer’s comment. Similarly, Dana Harrell, an education and sociology major at Claflin University, was told during an internship interview that if she wanted to move forward, she would have to straighten her hair. The employer made the comment that “nappy isn’t happy here.”
Like the women listed above, I think that many women have struggled to incorporate natural hair into a seemingly ignorant corporate setting. Although it disappoints me to know that this discrimination exists, I feel that I have an opportunity to inform and educate. Natural hair in the workplace can be a challenge for men and women alike, but it is important that we continue to stand firm because natural hair is more than just hair. It is a symbol of our self-acceptance.