This story was recently brought to my attention and I wanted to share it with you guys. Ashley Davis, a woman recently hired at Tower Loan was told that if she did not cut her dread locks off, she would be fired from the company. Tower Loan is a finance company that has offices located in Mississippi, Missouri, Alabama, and Louisiana. They implemented a strict policy on acceptable dress two months after hiring Ms. Davis and released a statement saying that professional appearance is necessary for the success of the company.
Ms. Davis is the only employee at the office with Dreads and if her hair was an issue, it should have been mentioned prior to hiring her, not months after her working there. Truthfully, I think it’s disappointing that this kind of discrimination is still happening. To me, looking professional should mean wearing particular clothing and behaving in a respectable manner. Specifying hair texture can very easily exclude people of color in a work place. Tower Loan is claiming that they are upholding professionalism, but I disagree and would argue that they are upholding racism. The only other option would be for her to essentially shave her head which I think is a ridiculous request to make of any employee regardless of race or gender.

What do you guys think? Where should we draw the line with the aesthetic of professionalism?

the issues

The Power of a Doll: Natural Girls United

dark barbie natural doll

If you’re anything like me, you probably grew up playing with dolls. When I was a kid, I had dolls of every kind: barbies, ken dolls, baby dolls, life size dolls, and many more. These toys shaped the way I saw myself and my peers. Without even realizing it, I began to see my self as ‘not good enough’ or not as attractive as other girls with longer hair, lighter skin, etc. These thoughts lead me to wonder why I didn’t fit into this ideal and more importantly how I could change myself to get closer to this ideal.

Recently, I stumbled across a new line of dolls by the brand Natural Girls United that had different variations of natural/curly hair and were of minority ethnic groups. Although they’re just toys that kids play with, their role in our childhoods is significant. When black girls see these dolls with messy hair, curly hair, dreads, a fro, and darker skin tones, they can then look in the mirror and know there’s nothing wrong with them and they’re beautiful the way they are. This seed that gets planted at a delicate age can really play a role in the kind of woman she becomes.

These natural hair dolls are fabulous and just a small part of a larger movement in, what I think, is the right direction.

the issues

dreadlocks-school-policyIn my experience with the natural hair community, I’ve noticed a lot of positivity, encouragement, and overall excitement. People, especially women, are growing a love and appreciation for their natural beauty. On the flip side, however, there can be some backlash. I’ve been recently reading about a few incidents where young kids are being discriminated against because of their natural hair. The story that stood out to me the most was the Tulsa Charter school in Oklahoma sending home a student for wearing dreads (click here to read the story in case you missed it). According to the school policy, dread locks, afros, and mo-hawks are not allowed for school because they’re too distracting. Personally, I can’t imagine anything more distracting than being singled out and sent home because of my general “look”.

The Tulsa Charter schools pride themselves on the quality education that they provide to their students. Their goal is to prepare them to be ideal members of the workforce. If there is one thing I took away from my k-12 education, it’s that you learn so much more than what was assigned for homework that week.

Teaching a lesson that dread locks and afros (styles clearly directed towards the African American community) enforces the standard that there is an image that must be maintained. Those who do not fall into this image will receive negative consequences and ultimately, be less successful adults in the future.

Hopefully, Tiana doesn’t receive this lesson as the truth, but rather a platform to facilitate a much needed social change.

No Afros Allowed?