I was on Facebook the other day, and I saw a post from one of my friends that blessed my life. So, there’s this woman named Tiffany Jana. She’s an author, B Corp CEO, and Inc.com Top 100 Leadership Speaker. I saw this post from her yesterday:
It’s funny that I saw this on my timeline because I had been sick with a cold for the past week, and I’ve been unable to wash my hair. It’s to the point where if I flat ironed it, it would still look limp. I usually wash and deep condition my hair every week, but I haven’t been able to do that because I’m scared that I will get sicker. I’m much better now, but I’m still unable to wash my hair because I’m still stopped up, so I’ve been wearing headwraps. I’m a freelance fashion designer, and a remote stylist, but I’m also a college instructor. I was sick as a dog, but the only thing I was worried about was having a lecture about wearing a headwrap at my job. Thankfully, that didn’t happen. In fact, some of my students really liked my headwrap. Although I’m really happy about that, it’s nothing new for black women to be judged, or even policed because of our hair.
If you read my last blog, you know that a hotel manager wouldn’t even accept my application and resume years ago simply because of my hair. I also said that it’s not the first time something like that happened to me. I have so many stories that involved my hair. The first hair incident happened when I started my first job. The year was 2000, and the place was called Wendell’s. It was a family restaurant. A lady who was the head cook told my mom that I should apply, and since my mom had just given me my first car, I did. When I had my interview, I was wearing colored contacts, and my hair was black and passed my shoulders. Everyone was really nice, and I was hired immediately. Two days prior to my first day, I decided to change my hairstyle. I styled my hair in Zulu twists (two-stranded twists that’s styled like braids) in the front and curly in the back. This was my favorite go-to hairstyle, and it was an easy way to keep me from using heat to my hair. When I came into work, the (white) head server that was training me immediately said “OMG! You changed your hair!” She gives me a tour and tells me of my job duties. Afterwards, we took a break. As soon as we sat down, she says, “Ok…..your hair. It’s really nice, but you’re going to have to change it!” When I asked why, she told me that the owner (who is also white) wanted everyone to look the same. She continued that he wanted every young lady/woman to wear her hair down, or in a ponytail, and because of my hairstyle, I will stand out from everyone. I was pissed, but because I needed that job, I had to take my hair down. That hurt my heart, and it also made me realize that it would not be the last time it happened to me.
My hair is dyed blonde. I always wanted my hair blonde, so when I finally dyed it in college, I was happy! I always loved my blonde hair, but in 2011 while working at another place, one of my coworkers asked if I was told to dye my hair, how would I react. When I asked what did he mean, he said “well, if you were told to dye your hair brown or black, how would you feel?” I told him I’d quit. He looked shocked. He said, “Really? Over hair color?” I said, “Yes! I always wanted my hair this color, and I feel alive with it. For someone to tell me to change my hair color, that means they aren’t accepting me. My hair is a part of my identity, no matter what color it is, so for someone to tell me to change it, they’re basically trying to change me.” I found it odd that he asked me that, until I found out our boss was basically trying to make everyone to dye their hair jet black. She even made a girl take out her blonde weave. She didn’t say anything to me though (I guess she knew my mouth). I didn’t stay there long. A few years before that, my friend tried to get me hired at a high end retail store, but then she asked me if I could do something with my hair. She proceeds to tell me how high end this store is, and because I was natural and blonde, they may not hire me. I didn’t get hired. I was happy.
Flash forward to now. I have a short haircut, shaved on the side, and it’s still blonde. When I had my interview at my school, the only thing I thought was “I hope they don’t say anything about my hair.” I had everything type of qualification that was listed, but I was focused on my hair. I love what I do, whether it’s teaching or working for myself, but when I saw this post, it immediately brought back flashbacks on how I was judged simply for my hair. There are still reports where black women’s hairstyles are considered unprofessional. I also know of several black women who colored their hair, only for them to dye it black because it’s considered “ghetto.” Black women are still subjected to hair searches by TSA agents (https://www.cosmopolitan.com/lifestyle/a18666534/tsa-black-women-hair-searches/).
There are millions of hairstyles out there, and black women are very creative with their hair. So, why are we still judged by it? It’s 2019, and it’s time for this to stop. So, just like the post says, “My Hair Has Nothing To Do With the Ability To Do My Job.” Please stop judging me because of my hair. I’m more than that!