Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Braids and the Angry Black Woman: Acceptable in the Workplace?

There has been a long-time notion that braids are not acceptable for black women in the workplace. I've seen black women passed over during interviews from my company in part due to stereotypes created from the first impression. Much of this first impression of the black woman relates to the style of hair she wears. A woman with braids with a cold disposition may even get the label of being an "angry black woman".

So, my question is whether or not black women wearing braids in the workplace is acceptable. If it is not acceptable, then why not? I have known many brilliant black women in college who wore braids, but some of them cut their hair when they go after their first corporate interview. Are braids a big enough piece of African American culture for us to fight over it, or should be just assimilate to fit in?

If we do fit in, then what style of hair works best? I would like to know if anyone else has guidance on this issue.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad you brought up the topic. I have always worn my hair the way I wanted to. Some things I will not compromise and my blackness is on of them. As long as my hair is clean and neat they can .....

I have had many comments at work like why don't you put a perm in you hair. And those comments have always come from black people. My birth right offends people including black people. I often remind people that I do not comment on their hair so try not to be concerned about mine.

I don't pay too much attention to people who uphold or believe in white supremacy.
I think if we black women work on our souls than we won't concern ourselves with what the hell those dunmmies feel. I respect woman show her strenght by not changing their hair to gain acceptance from people who uphold white supremacy.

Overall, I think there are many factors that determine how comfortable black women will be in the workplace and the judgement of our hair is one of those categories. I guess if the people you work with are uncomfortable with our hair then chances are they uncomfortable with our presence period.

I am a police officer. There are four black women who work in the department of approximately 500employees. Two with natural hair, one with a perm and one who always wears braids. In my workplace braids are accepatble. I can't imagine how it would be for black women attempting to climb the corporate ladder. Maybe if accessories were added it might make you know who comfortable. Ultimately the culture of the workplace will set the norms for behaviour. If you want to get something then as an individual you will have to decide whether you can accept the cultural norms in your workplace. Good luck with that one sister. Remember, don't forget your soul. Stay strong sisters!

Anonymous said...

I think that if you feel like you didn't get a job or a promotion because you have braids in your hair, then you should take a step back and re-think how you came to that conclusion. I think braids look great, a perm looks great, weave looks great, etc. I also think that its illogical to come to a conclusion that having braids would hold you back. Unless you know of a specific event where this was the sole reason for someone getting passed for a job or promotion. In 20yrs of business, I've never witnesed anything like that. If anything, the other part about a bad attitude has kept people from moving up, both black and white, men and women. Braids don't matter, I'm about 100% sure there!