Fighting for Our Hair in Corporate America
Doussou offers something very special in this article that I have not seen in any of my research thus far; the author is actually asking the question: "Do we step up to an employer when we feel discriminated against and risk our jobs? Or do we fall in line and conform?" So far my research has either swayed towards the point of being forced to conform in order to survive or emphasizes the point of how we've conformed. I hope my research project makes some type of impact on how African American Women with natural hair approach this answer.
"Natural hair discrimination in the professional world in 2013 is just foolish and unprofessional in itself" says Chioma Bennet, a school teacher in brooklyn. This is a quote from the article I would like to shed light on, because understanding this in its entirety will bring emphasis to the fact that African American women cannot continue to support this conformity and simply comply. Doussou also addresses the banning of cornrows and dredlocks in Hampton University's School of business (an historically black college). This ban was initiated by Hampton University's Deans who stood firmly in believing they would provide job opportunities for their students. Even if this were the case, Doussou challenges her readers by posing another alternative question: "should we really be working to conform to corporate norms, or should be working towards changing them?"
Maryline Doussou. (2013, July 3). Ebony/Style. Ebony Online Magazine. Retrieved from: http://www.ebony.com/style/fighting-for-our-hair-in-corporate-america-032#axzz2yPQreSoj
Ask the White Guy: Do Blacks Need to Relax Their Hair to Get Promoted?
This was the first article I read for my research. It is reflective of my original methodology which was to interview caucasian women/men of powerful positions and ask them about their perception of African American natural hair. Due to time constraints and fear of noncompliance, I decided to look at legal artifacts instead.
In "Do Blacks Need to Relax Their Hair to Get Promoted?, an African American woman with locs in her hair asks "the white guy" a series of questions pertaining to why African American women who choose to wear their natural hair have been discriminated against for employment, CEO jobs, and promotions. She also asks why there are so many negative connotations associated with natural hair choices. The "white guy" goes on to explain a very interesting quote that I refer back to in my Research Proposal Tab : "Psychological tests show that people most trust people who look like them." With that being said, companies run by Causcasian men, like most companies, will prefer an employer of Caucasian features, and if she is African American, she must relate by skin tone and/or straight hair. Aside from pointing out that psychological stigma, I enjoyed the fact that "the white guy" included the Barack Obama presidency by stating that diversity has been a "key factor" in deterrmining his election. He goes on to state that many are ready to embrace this diversity shift and that if companies aren't ready, then "their perception is out of date."
Ask the White Guy. DiversityInc. Retrieved from:http://www.diversityinc.com/ask-the-white-guy/do-blacks-need-to-relax-their-natural-hair-to-get-promoted/
Your Race, Your Looks
Some of you may have already heard about the Glamour Magazine Staffer who offended African American woman and many other supporters by addressing Corporate Americas "do's and don'ts" in fashion. Briefly, this staffer stated:
An African American woman sporting an Afro. A real no-no,
... As for dreadlocks: How trulydreadful! The style maven
said it was 'shocking' that some people still think it
appropriate' to wear those hairstyles at the office. 'No
offense,' she sniffed, but those 'political' hairstyles really
have to go.
This statement is troubling in more ways than one and rightfully so, this staffer has undergone a vast amount of publicity and ridicule for this statement.
In "Your Race, Your Looks," Chidaya challenges Glamour's offensive statement with a roundtable discussion about natural hair, offer this staffer a chance for redemption. This roundtable consists of "...journalists, academics, and businesswomen" who examined situations where natural hair was a topic of discussion.
I am incorporating Chiday's work because of the discussion between Vanessa Bush,
executive director of Essence, and a Woman named Floyd. Floyd feels the
pressure of having to conform to keep her job and Vanessa Bush asks her: "At
what point do you say 'Why should I?'" Floyd's respons echoed what many African
American women feel: "I’ve got two kids who are in school, and you get to a point where you have practical decisions to make. I have a message I want to get out there, so I’m going to make this particular compromise and be very careful not to lose a sense of who I am." Floyd's response closely relates back to the Doussou's question of "Do we step up to an employer when we feel discriminated against and risk our jobs? Or do we fall in line and conform."
Chidaya, F. (2008, February 4) Your Race, Your Looks. Glamour Magazine. Retrieved from:http://www.glamour.com/magazine/2008/02/race-beauty-panel?currentPage=1
Natural Hair and Professionalism: An Oxymoron?
In "Natural hair and professionalism. An oxymoron?," Talbert presents the "devil's advocate" for my research. Rightfully so, it is important to include it. This article actually referes back to the Glamour Magazine staffer who I previously discussed and informs us that the staffer has been "reprimanded" for her statement. Talbert goes on to say that black women also have said these words about other black women, but black women have, in return, just accepted it. Essentially, this woman is introducing the concept of "black on black" crime within our own culture.
I completely agree with her perspective. I have underwent my own period of my natural hair where my peers would constantly question me and tell me to get a weave or go back to perming my hair because my "roots are crazy." It is important to emphasize how this downgrading within our own culture gives greater permission for other cultures to do the same.
Talbert also offer an important reminder: "If you haven't noticed recently, black women with kinky hair dominate the same commercials that are cast by all white ad agencies." I enjoyed hearing this because even though I might not completely belive and see no evidence of this, Talbert's comment ties in with the roundtable discussion of "Women in television" that I incorporate in my Video Epage. In the roundtable discussion, one respondent remarked: ".. Now it's kind of like the thing, you can watch commercials now with a black woman, you can notice that their all natural, it's like now, if im going to look for a black woman, I want a black woman." This is exciting, because it is showing some change in our preferences.
Talbert, M. (2011, February 22). Natural hair and professionalism. An oxymoron? Black Enterprise.