Excerpted from: 11 Examples Highlighting the War Against Natural Hair
Reprinted with Permission. Atlanta Black Star, A Moore Author
Tianadee Parker sent home from school crying for having locks
Tiana Parker, 7, was reprimanded by her Tulsa, Okla., elementary school in September for wearing locks to school. Her father removed her from the Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, after the charter school’s dress code banning “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks and other faddish styles” sent her home in tears.
Two weeks after Tiana transferred to another school over the policy, her former school backtracked with an apology and amendment to its dress code.
MarKeese Warner denied employment for dreadlocks
In June 2012, Penn State engineering student MarKeese Warner learned when she applied for a summer job at Six Flags in Mitchellville, Md., that she was denied employment because her locks were a breach of the company policy against “extreme hairstyles.”
Six Flags stood by its decision and claims it is an equal opportunity employer.
“We have a very conservative dress code,” a company representative said. “We don’t discriminate based on gender, age, or race.”
Warner started a Change.org petition to raise awareness of the Six Flags policy, and more than 30,000 people signed it.
“I think this policy is discriminating. And I think it does enable racial profiling,” said Warner, adding that though it affects people of all races, “in practice it affects predominantly Black people because the majority of people with dreadlocks are Black.”
Meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired for defending natural hair
Meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired from Louisiana KTBS 3 News in October 2012 for responding to a viewer’s racist Facebook comment about her natural hair. The ABC affiliate station said that Lee violated company policy when she responded to the comments with an explanation about her ethnic hair and African-American heritage.
She recalls a manager at the station suggesting she thank viewers for their oft-racially insensitive comments about her hair. “I remember thinking, ‘No I’m not going to thank someone for being racist,’” she says.
The TV station is maintaining that it sent an email addressing staff communicating with readers on social media, however Lee affirms she “never got part of any policy as it pertains to any Facebook posts and social media in general.”
Sheryl Underwood calls afro hair “nasty”
Talk-show host and comedian Sheryl Underwood caused an uproar in the Black community, when she made a derogatory reference to Black hair in a August re-run episode of CBS’s “The Talk.” In the segment, co-host Sharon Osbourne highlighted the fact that model Heidi Klum saves the hair after her biracial children get a haircut.
Underwood responded,“I’m sorry but why would you save afro hair? You can’t weave in afro hair. You ain’t never seen us at the hair place going, ‘Look here, what I need is the curly, nappy beads.’ That just seems nasty.”
To make matters worse, when co-host Sara Gilbert added that she also saves her children’s hair, Underwood responded, “Which is probably some beautiful long silky stuff. That’s not what an afro is.”
Black woman gets TSA patdown for puffy hair
The Transportation Security Administration searched Laura Adiele’s “poofy” hair in July 2011 at Seattle’s Sea-Tec Airport even after she already had gone through a full body X-ray scanner.
Adiele felt the additional search was discrimination, that she as a Black woman with an afro tucked up into a curly bun, was being selected for hand-screening when women of other races with “big hair, ponytails” weren’t. So she asked to speak to a supervisor.
“The supervisor shows up and she says, ‘It’s our policy that we examine anything that poofs from the body,’ and I’m looking around me at all these women with bigger hair if you will and I’m thinking ‘why am I the only one being singled out here for poofy hair?” Adiele said, adding, “It’s just totally a violation of my personal space and my biggest question is if I’m going through a full body X-ray what more do you need to find, after that?” Adiele said.
Not wanting to miss her flight she finally relented.
Isaiah Mustafa Says women have to have “good hair”
Old Spice guy Isaiah Mustafa made headlines in 2011 when he opened up in an E! interview about the qualities he looks for in a woman.
Mustafa, who has been romantically linked to comedian Kathy Griffin, listed admirable qualities such as athleticism and honesty but then asserted that his ideal woman has to have “good hair.”
“Yes, it does have to be real hair. I want my kids to have nice hair so she better have good hair. Cause, I don’t know if you’ve checked my hair out lately. Aside from today it’s normally nice. Today it’s slightly nappy,” Mustafa said.
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