A friend of mine called me to calm her down before an interview. While releasing the nervousness and uncertainty that we all experience before a possibly life changing moment she said, “I think my hair is to kinky for this interview.” I reassured her that no employer would care that her hair was kinky. They know you’re a black woman as soon as you enter the building. I don’t think what I said helped but the real question is this: Is your natural appearance as a Black person a detriment when in Corporate America?
Chris Rock’s documentary “Good Hair” highlighted some of the thoughts of why African Americans spend BILLIONS of dollars a year on “Whitening up.” On the documentary, a young woman said that she got perms because having a afro is unprofessional. Conversely, another interviewee said, “Its amazing that not altering my appearance as an African American makes me extreme.”
My personal experience from having “Dread Locs” is that older African-Americans and those influenced by older African-Americans are the only people that have a problem with natural African hairstyles. Most Whites are curious and/or fascinated by natural hairstyles. Many will ask, “Is it possible to do that to my hair?” The closest thing to a negative comment I’ve ever received was when applying for a management position at Enterprise Rentals. They have a written policy that men cannot have hair passed their shoulders nor facial hair. (other than a well trimmed mustache)
My brother-in-law, who has locs nearly sweeping the floor, told me something a long time ago that I believe as true. If an employer has a problem with you being you then you probably don’t want to work for that employer. Having the hair you were born with is not the same as having a swastika tattooed on your face or dying your hair bright pink.
As the Late Bernie Mack said in House Party 3, “If people don’t like you for you are, F*&% ‘em with handcuffs on ‘em and crazy glue on their lips… F*&% ‘em!
What do you think? Are dreads, braids, kinky twists, afros, and other natural hair styles not acceptable in the corporate arena? Furthermore, do you think darker complected people have a harder time getting jobs than lighter complected people? Look around your office.