If you have noticed, throughout my research, I have made a conscious effort to repetitively include the word standard. Understanding this standard and the power it has had throughout society is understanding why enforcing grooming policies that are not cohesive to African American culture or preferred hair type is considered discriminatory. The standard initiates an internalized ideal, and those who do not fit in this ideal are considered "other."
The politics of othering is what makes the standard so detrimental. The politics of othering emphasizes the fact that in order to achieve any amount of privilege, like upward mobility, lighter skin tone, straighter hair, and anything else that comes close to white features is the price to pay. Society has come up with a way to enforce these features through grooming standards, and it is legalized by the support of our government. Arguments like hairstyles must not be "eye catching" is one of the many claims that employers resort to when they don't approve of our cultural expressions; just because our expressions do not adhere to what they want us to be: them.
Another argument I read often throughout my cases was braids, dreadlocks, and twists all being "easily changeable." I can assure you that whoever initiated that claim is not well versed in what is considered "easily changeable." Braids take about 6-8 hours to complete; cornrows can take maybe two hours, and dreadlocks take YEARS to grow! This is an example of just how much they don't care to understand. An even better example is: why must we be forced to neglect a hairstyle that takes us hours to complete when whites can roll out of bed with a 15 minute bun and have that seen as professional?
If you refer back to my proposal tab on the left hand side, you will see how I was hoping my research would come accross some great movements for our future. I intentionally placed the cases in chronological order to review back to them and take note of evolution. Unfortunately, there wasn't much to take note of.
The government decided to throw us a bone with Article VII of the Civil Rights prohibiting the discrimination of our natural growth because it is "immutable", but if we continue to enforce the standard, what changes will come about for our culture to be accepted? I am very well versed in the circumstances that result in having to perm and straighten African American hair, but if we continue to neglect our hair expressions, or simply lay down and wait until the government decides to give us another bone, then how do we expect anything to change?
My hope for the future is not to start a hair movement, but for African Americans not to feel like they are permanently barred. I want us to all reach a place where we don't have to question whether or not we should get braids due to our jobs, or whether our dreads will be considered professional enough for employment.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is taking note of some of these systematic practices to keep the standard in play. It's about time we all end this game both internally and externally.