Imagine yourself after graduating from college. You endured four plus years of education and have worked extremely hard to get your degree. You even did internships to ensure that you would be more than qualified for your dream job. You think your interview went great and you were more than positive that the job was yours. You get an email the next day stating “Thank you for your interest in our company. Unfortunately we are unable to offer you a position at this time because your HAIR is not professional.”
It is insane for me to even have to consider the fact that my natural hair could disqualify me for a job. I could have all the qualifications needed and then some, but still be overlooked because of how I choose to wear my hair. Unfortunately, many companies and even schools were discriminating against men and women because of their hairstyle. I’ve come across so many articles about Black girls being suspended from school because of their braids or whatever way they chose to rock their hair.
The truth is that people who are not Black do not understand our hair. They don’t understand how difficult it is to keep up and the styles that we choose to wear are what benefit us most. Our Afros, braids, locs, etc. make some employers feel uncomfortable and this has caused many qualified candidates to miss out on their dream jobs.
I was extremely excited to find out that New York has banned discrimination against hair. This decision came after a New Jersey School forced a Black wrestler to cut his dreadlocs minutes before his match. The New York City Commission on Human Rights realized that this was a growing problem and decided to put an end to it. Appearance and grooming policies that ban natural hairstyles, including locs, cornrows, twist, Bantu knots, braids, fades, and Afros, in public are illegal and punishable by law. These new guidelines made me smile because it covers ALL of our natural hairstyles. Those who encounter discrimination can take legal action and if organizations are found to have violated this they can face up to $250,000 in penalties.
Thank you New York City for setting an example for the rest of the United States. I hope to see more states follow their footsteps!
By Brittanie Sturdivant, Sophomore,Open Campus Parsons School of Design