For some time now, natural hair women, and men who wear their hair in locs were not considered professionals and were sometimes even turned down for jobs. Who defines professionalism? It is define, by the online dictionary, as the competence or skill of a professional. For most companies professionalism in appearance is limited to long, straight hair either secured in a pony tail or neatly let down on either sides with a side part or bang. The problem with this is that it does not cater to women of color who choose to wear their hair in its natural state. Therefore, it does not include kinks, twists or a puff.
I know of a particular Trinidadian young lady who mentioned to me that she would love return natural but had to wait until after she got a job before she can do the ‘big chop’ and start her natural hair journey. Racism my friends, still exists. See, its not just hair because somebody somewhere has set the standard that straight hair ‘is it’. Now this is not to say that all organizations are the same because when I was natural first time around, I did an interview at a particular place of business and not only was my hair natural but I showed up to the interview with short hair, bleached ends with corn rows in the front and two strand twists in the back. It was a brave move considering back then organizations were still struggling with the concept of natural hair. I thought about it, but I was not going to relax my hair for a job interview pretending to be somebody that I was not. I was natural. I was turned down for the job and I thought it was because of my hair. But one week later, I received a call for a second interview and I eventually landed the job. To my surprise, there were a few sisters with natural hair working at that establishment and one even bold enough to rock a fro to work. I guess the point that I’m trying to make is that all horses don’t run alike. Kudos to this establishment for not discriminating? But when you go downtown St. John’s, how many natural hair sisters and loc hair brothers do you see on the “front line”?
Our Antiguan society however is starting to evolve and embrace natural hair whether locked or loose. I noticed a young man at the Antigua Cooperative Credit Union with locks. Most times that I see him he is well groomed. My parliamentarian, the Honorable, Dr. Jacqui Quinn-Leandro now rocks a fro to parliament. Our Queen of Carnival 2009 Ms. Shalana George won the crown strutting her lovely locs on stage. My former High School Principal Mrs. Commodore has been natural for more than the 15 years that I have know her! Way to go Mrs. C! I’m sure there are other naturals in positions that I don’t know of. But is it enough to make and impact on our society?
Since more companies are moving towards diversity, let us diversify our minds to embrace both men and women who choose to wear our natural hair. After all, our hair is just an extension of who we are.
How about the country where you’re from? How is natural hair perceived? How do you as an individual perceive natural hair in the workplace?