Natural hair for black women has been a controversial subject since slavery was dissolved and women were allowed in the cooperate workplace. Since we are born, wearing wigs, weaves, or the hair we are born with is always seen as a political statement instead of simply preference, and that judgment has not been squandered over time.
Hair, as it is for others with less coarse and curly locks, is just hair, but for those that do not fit that definition, it is not treated as such. The demonization of black women's hair is most times, an underlying bias that many employers and educators are unaware of possessing.
While many people reduce this prejudice to a bias of the past, the atrocities still continue to make the news. In March 2017, newscaster Brittany Noble Jones was fired from her newscasting job on WJTV for wearing her natural hair on television. After years of straightening her hair to achieve the "news anchor bob" that she had worn since her employment, she began to notice the disastrous effect it was having on her hair. This hairstyle is exemplified by numerous figures that are littered throughout our history and media like Michelle Obama, Oprah, Kerry Washington, and Meghan Markle. In order to regain her hair's health, she turned to protective styles that eventually led to her termination. After only wearing the style for a month, her news director asked her to revert back to her previous style because her current one was too "unprofessional," and while Noble Jones never received hate mail for her shift, her boss stated that they had received a substantial amount of negative feedback on her hairstyle. After deciding to file a complaint against the company due to their harassment, Noble Jones was informed of the company's policy which prohibited their on-air talent from having "shaggy, unkempt" hair.
This mindset is not specific to corporate jobs as it can apply to various levels of employment. When applying for a team member position at a local Cici's pizza in my home town, the pressure was still present. I was warned by all my siblings, as well as my mother, to straighten my hair instead of wearing it in the afro that I am proud to display today. Not only were they also told by their previous employers that it would help me to seem more professional, but they had also seen the advice proven in numerous occasions in which they were ultimately ignored despite being overqualified for the position at hand. Hair is not as black and white as many people believe it to be. Depending on how far it deviates from the standard that is smooth, straight hair, the more unprofessional and undesirable it becomes.