The issue of natural Black hair in the workplace has become a pressing civil rights issue due to many factors. Discrimination and bias towards Black individuals, particularly Black women, based on their natural hair texture and hairstyles have been prevalent for decades. Certain hairstyles commonly worn by Black people have been deemed unprofessional or unkempt in some workplaces, perpetuating racial stereotypes and contributing to unequal treatment based on race.
It is important to note that cultural appropriation of traditionally Black hairstyles by non-Black individuals without facing the same negative consequences highlights a double standard that exacerbates the civil rights issue. Black individuals are often penalized for wearing their natural or traditional hairstyles, while non-Black individuals are praised for adopting the same styles. This double standard is not only unfair but also perpetuates the systemic racism that has plagued our society for centuries.
Moreover, Eurocentric beauty standards prioritizing Eurocentric features and straight hair as the norm create a hostile environment for those with natural Black hair, forcing individuals to conform to be accepted in professional settings. This is a clear example of how systemic racism is perpetuated in the workplace, as Black individuals are forced to assimilate to Eurocentric beauty standards to be considered professional or competent.
Thankfully, legislative efforts such as the Crown Act have been introduced and passed in certain states in the United States to protect individuals from discrimination based on their natural hair, emphasizing the civil rights aspect of the issue. Recognizing natural Black hair as a civil rights issue calls for challenging and dismantling long-standing biases and discriminatory practices, promoting inclusivity, and creating a more equitable environment for all individuals, regardless of hair texture or style. It is time for us to recognize the beauty and value of natural Black hair and to create a workplace environment that celebrates diversity and inclusivity.