It’s Now Legal To Ban Dreads In The Workplace

The U.S Court of Appeals recently ruled that it is perfectly legal for companies to discriminate based on cultural hairstyles such as dreadlocks, proving once again that racial discrimination is still alive and thriving. We all know who this new set of regulations is targeting because I doubt that anyone will discriminate against Becky with the good straight hair. This ruling calls out women of color, especially Black women, who rock dreads or box braids at their job. Under no circumstance should anyone be discriminated at their workplace, especially over something as petty as their hairstyle.

In 2010, Chasity Jones sued a local Alabama company because they claimed that it was against company policy to wear dreadlocks. This was justified by the company because, according to their white human resources manager, “dreads tend to get messy”. Contrary to their stereotypical portrayal of dreadlocks, not all dreads are ‘messy’ or ‘unkempt’. And even if dreads happen to get a little messy now and then, I was unaware that we are expected to be compared to the unattainable standard of sleek hair 24/7. All hair gets frizzy or messy, humans are flawed and sometimes life happens. And why would my dreads affect your job to the point of severe distraction? If so, then I don’t believe that the issue lies in my dreads, but in your work ethic.

Why is it that we never see law suits for white women being discriminated against their natural hair. Why is it that no one has a problem with European beauty features, but once Black women begin to embrace their heritage in the workplace, the world goes crazy. In the Court ruling, they claimed that cultural hairs styles are merely not immutable, meaning that they could easily be changed. But what if you don’t want to change your hair for the sake of a job? Especially a style like dreads, which is so culturally intertwined in the Black community, we shouldn’t have to change our appearance to be taken seriously. Dreads are beautiful and professional and should be accepted into a work environment just like any other hairstyle. It’s terrifying to think that there could be a day where I could be denied a job because of the way my hair sits upon my head. This blatant discrimination spurs from the stigma that Black hairstyles are unprofessional, which is outdated and simply incorrect.

Just last week, Marc jacobs used fake dreads on white models at NYFW and although he received a lot of hate and criticism, he also received some appraisal from those who were not aware of a little thing called cultural appropriation. When white people wear dreads they’re seen as ‘artsy’ and ‘fashion-savvy’ and ‘trendy’ yet when Black women rock their own hair style they are denied jobs. It’s one thing to appropriate Black culture, but to steal a hairstyle that is a root of systematic Black prejeduice is a whole new level of messed up. It’s time we start judging people on their capability to do their jobs and not on the kinks in their curls or the state of their dreadlocks.

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Nyah Hardmon
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Nyah lives in Miami, FL where she studies journalism and creative writing - any questions, comments, or concerns can be sent to nthardmon@gmail.com.

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