11 Examples Highlighting the War Against Natural Black Hair
| Posted by A Moore
Tiana Parker sent home from school crying for having locks
Tiana Parker, 7, was reprimanded by her Tulsa, Okla., elementary school in September for wearing locks to school. Her father removed her from the Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, after the charter school’s dress code banning “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks and other faddish styles” sent her home in tears.
Two weeks after Tiana transferred to another school over the policy, her former school backtracked with an apology and amendment to its dress code.
MarKeese Warner denied employment for dreadlocks
In June 2012, Penn State engineering student MarKeese Warner learned when she applied for a summer job at Six Flags in Mitchellville, Md., that she was denied employment because her locks were a breach of the company policy against “extreme hairstyles.”
Six Flags stood by its decision and claims it is an equal opportunity employer.
Meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired for defending natural hair
Meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired from Louisiana KTBS 3 News in October 2012 for responding to a viewer’s racist Facebook comment about her natural hair. The ABC affiliate station said that Lee violated company policy when she responded to the comments with an explanation about her ethnic hair and African-American heritage.
She recalls a manager at the station suggesting she thank viewers for their oft-racially insensitive comments about her hair. “I remember thinking, ‘No I’m not going to thank someone for being racist,’” she says.
The TV station is maintaining that it sent an email addressing staff communicating with readers on social media, however Lee affirms she “never got part of any policy as it pertains to any Facebook posts and social media in general.”
Sheryl Underwood calls afro hair “nasty”
Talk-show host and comedian Sheryl Underwood caused an uproar in the Black community, when she made a derogatory reference to Black hair in a August re-run episode of CBS’s “The Talk.” In the segment, co-host Sharon Osbourne highlighted the fact that model Heidi Klum saves the hair after her biracial children get a haircut.
Underwood responded,“I’m sorry but why would you save afro hair? You can’t weave in afro hair. You ain’t never seen us at the hair place going, ‘Look here, what I need is the curly, nappy beads.’ That just seems nasty.”
To make matters worse, when co-host Sara Gilbert added that she also saves her children’s hair, Underwood responded, “Which is probably some beautiful long silky stuff. That’s not what an afro is.”
Black woman gets TSA patdown for puffy hair
The Transportation Security Administration searched Laura Adiele’s “poofy” hair in July 2011 at Seattle’s Sea-Tec Airport even after she already had gone through a full body X-ray scanner.
Adiele felt the additional search was discrimination, that she as a Black woman with an afro tucked up into a curly bun, was being selected for hand-screening when women of other races with “big hair, ponytails” weren’t. So she asked to speak to a supervisor.
“The supervisor shows up and she says, ‘It’s our policy that we examine anything that poofs from the body,’ and I’m looking around me at all these women with bigger hair if you will and I’m thinking ‘why am I the only one being singled out here for poofy hair?” Adiele said, adding, “It’s just totally a violation of my personal space and my biggest question is if I’m going through a full body X-ray what more do you need to find, after that?” Adiele said.
Isaiah Mustafa Says women have to have “good hair”
Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa made headlines in 2011 when he opened up in an E! interview about the qualities he looks for in a woman.
Mustafa, who has been romantically linked to comedian Kathy Griffin, listed admirable qualities such as athleticism and honesty but then asserted that his ideal woman has to have “good hair.”
“Yes, it does have to be real hair. I want my kids to have nice hair so she better have good hair. Cause, I don’t know if you’ve checked my hair out lately. Aside from today it’s normally nice. Today it’s slightly nappy,” Mustafa said.
Milwaukee teacher cuts off student’s braid
In November 2009, Lamya Cammon, 7, reported that her first-grade Milwaukee teacher brought her to the front of the class and used a pair of classroom scissors to cut off one of her braids as punishment. Embarrassed, the girl cried at her seat while her classmates laughed at her expense. According to reports, the teacher then remarked, “Now what you gonna go home and say to your momma?”
The teacher has since apologized for acting out of “frustration” and was also issued a $175 fine for disorderly conduct from the local police department. The district attorney, however, has declined to press charges against the teacher. Eventually the school board suspended her without pay.
Hampton University bans hairstyles
Hampton University, a historically Black university, has a ban on cornrows and dreadlocks for students in its five-year MBA program.
Male students enrolled in Hampton’s program have not been allowed to sport these styles since 2001, when the ban was put into place. The ban was started because of the school’s desire to maintain a “professional” look for students in the program.
The ban sparked controversy, but the university maintains hairstyles will prevent students from securing corporate jobs.
Vanessa VanDyke threatened with expulsion
A Central Florida girl faced expulsion because administrators at her private Christian school wanted her to cut and shape her hair. Last month, Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, the school the 12-year-old had been attending since third grade, gave her a week to decide whether to change her natural hair or leave.
“It says that I’m unique,” Vanessa said of her hairstyle. “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”
Vanessa’s mom, Sabrina Kent, said her daughter has had the same hairstyle since the beginning of the school year, but school officials only became concerned Vanessa’s hair was a distraction after Kent complained to them about her daughter being teased.
“There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they’re blaming her,” Kent said.
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution reported that the school is not going to expel Vanessa, but she still must abide by school’s policy of styling.
“We’re not asking her to put products in her hair or cut her hair.” However, the school is not accepting her current look, either. “We’re asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook,” the school said in a statement to a local news outlet.
Missouri woman told to cut off 10-year-old locks or lose job
In October, 24-year-old Ashley Davis was told by her bosses at Tower Loan, a Missouri loan company, that due to changes in the company policy, she had until the end of the week to cut off her 10-year-old dreadlocks if she wanted to keep her job.
The policy states,”dreadlocks, braids, mohawks, mullets and other hairstyles are against company guidelines.”
Ashley had worked for two months with her locks in plain sight, and says her supervisor even commended her job performance.
Davis says her locks are a part of her culture and everyone in her family wears them. But, she’s the only one in her office that wears the hairstyle.
Black employee told braids look “ghetto”
Katherine Lemire, a former special prosecutor for the New York Police Department, says that she was removed from her job at Michael Stapleton Associates for standing up for a Black colleague.
Lemire, who was president of MSA Investigations until she was forced to resign, says she stood up for Chanissa Green after MSA Vice President of Operations Joe Atherall warned the human resources assistant to not wear her hair in braids.
According to the allegations, here’s what he said: “When someone like me… sees someone with a style like that, we think ghetto – not professional. I’ll tell you what’s beautiful: my daughter, with blond hair and blue eyes.”
Lemire, who has filed a lawsuit, says that the probe into the discrimination was botched by the company and the employee handling the investigation was also fired as a result.
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I would like to cry right now.