Hair Tales: Discrimination

I met with ____ on ____, and was elated to become a part of the ____ team. Ms. ____ shared with me, as you did in my initial interview, that ____ needs to strengthen its area of outreach. I appreciated the idea of partnering with Meals on Wheels and updating the brochure. I also had ideas of my own; such as polling clients about the best way to market to their demographic, creating fliers, and visiting homeless shelters, senior center buildings, clinics, and senior centers. I believe outreach would be an excellent way to utilize the ten hours a week while getting the word out and providing clients with resources.

I am, however, sad to say this wonderful visualization cannot become a reality. I cannot move forward in this position. For the last 13 days I have been thinking of Ms. ____’s tone, and her disclosure that ____was taken aback by my overall physical appearance- particularly my “dreads”. I do not have dreads, as a woman of color my hair is Afro-textured – meaning my texture hasn’t been altered by chemical straightness.  My hair is clean and well taken care of, and the style has never been a problem in a professional environment. Ms. ____ informed me that you and she had a discussion with ____ about being culturally sensitive. I am pleased to hear that you have spoken with him, although I am alarmed by his behavior. I am sure he also had to listen to Human Resources read the Civil Rights training form and had to sign off on it. However, ____ and I cannot have a supervisor-supervisee relationship if he is uncomfortable with my appearance and he lacks cultural sensitivity outside of his own community. I believe that as social worker one must embrace differences and provide services to all people in the community, bridge diverse communities, provide a sense of belonging to all, and recognize others’ voices and opinions. I do hope the next person you select, you will be able to apperiacte what they have to offer and povide a welcoming enviorment.

I was reminded of the above scenario after reading these article, Black UK Girl Punished at School for Braided Heart and Twitter Reacts and Illinois’ CROWN Act goes into effect which royally pissed me off and left me screaming “What the fu-k does one’s hair have to do with learning?” It also reminded me why the Crown Act is in place. Sadly, the Act is not international, and it barely works in America. I also had one of my favorite boggers ask about my hair. I know she was asking because she’s on her own beautiful hair journey, and to that I say, embrace your best beautiful self, and allow no one to ever let you feel less than because they don’t understand your appearance.  

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2 Responses to Hair Tales: Discrimination

  1. You know thanks for this but I must say I’ve never had any problems about my hair with the world. I cut all my hair off one day after coming back from SJU. It was so hot over there and muggy wet that I was uncomfortable and couldn’t wait to go home. My husband at the time loved it so much that he extended our stay for three extra days. I had worn extensions over there. And immediately upon our return we went upstairs in the game room and he cut my extensions out for me and I cut all my hair off. I’ll have to find that picture and blog about it. But no one has said anything negative about my hair. Ever! I went natural by accident b/c I had started wearing extension in 2008. She told me to stop perming it b/c it was better done on natural hair. That was also the first time I had worn extensions too. I do love my hair journey. I love my natural hair. I mean every now and again I want a little change but overall my natural hair is so much and I do embrace it. Thanks for this article post and your words of encouragement. Your hair isn’t locked is it? It looks like just very strong and healthy two strands twist. I love the look of your hair and certain its just as beautiful in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    • msw blog says:

      I am glad you have never had to experience hair discrimination as a woman of color. Count it all on joy! The incident described above was the only professional incident I have EVER had regarding my hair. I know the issue was bigger then my hair, and I could never work in such a negative space.

      Liked by 1 person

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