At the beginning of the Capstone Project idea building, I knew that I wanted to bring light to certain “swept under the rug” topics that have affected me as well as other minorities. The main one that came to mind was diversity in the workplace, and how increasing it could improve the outcome and production of those companies who lack in that area, namely the television industry since that ‘s the industry that I’m striving to be in.
Although I’m still passionate about diversity in the work place, I came to realize during research, that the topic was more broad than I thought it was and that if I was going to be effective I would need to narrow It down, which was no easy task at all. The question then became, what type of diversity? Racial, gender, sexual preference, which one? So, this prepped me to dig deeper in my research and within myself to see what the actual topic of my capstone project should be, and what angle of diversity I wanted to focus on that poses as an everyday issue for minorities in the work place as a whole, not only in the television profession.
Finally, I came up with the topic of natural hair in the work place. While the natural hair movement is all about achieving healthier hair and self-acceptance, employers don’t always feel the same way. Some employers have either banned or placed ultimatums on the act of wearing hair in its natural texture, saying that it looks unkempt or unprofessional. Meteorologist Rhonda Lee was fired from her job at ABC Shreveport, Louisiana affiliate- a position she held for almost a year, not for anything that she said on air, or misrepresenting the brand of her station, but, because she responded to a viewers comment online regarding her hair on the stations Facebook Page. Another incident of the same nature happened to an intern at WNCT who says that for a school project she was told that her hair was “Too big and I needed to straighten it,” she explained. “Straighten it out. It would be distracting.”
This isn’t just an issue within the field of television it spans among a wide variety of different professions. Dana Harrell, an education and sociology major at Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C., was told during an internship interview that if she wanted to move forward, she would have to straighten her hair.
“The lady told me that if I wanted to work for her company, I couldn’t wear my hair in its natural state,” Harrell said. “Not even braids. She said ‘nappy isn’t happy here.’”
Or, the fact that the Lorain Horizon Science Academy in Ohio released a letter to students parents about its new dress code, where natural hair styles such as afro puffs and small twist braids were banned.
In 2001, a leadership course at Hampton University banned natural hairstyles such as dreadlocks and cornrows, with belief that those types of hairstyles would prevent students from receiving corporate jobs. And during a 2007 “Do’s and Dont’s of corporate fashion slideshow, an unidentified editor of Glamour magazine stated that dreadlocks are “ truly dreadful” and that she found it shocking that people though tit was appropriate to ear these hairstyles. She went on to say these “political hairstyles” clearly have to go.
But what is so unnatural, unclean, unprofessional, dreadful or inappropriate about wearing hair in the natural texture in which it grown out of your scalp? Banning natural hair or denying someone work because of natural or ethnic hairstyles such as afros, dreadlocks or other natural styles could be considered discrimination. These types of hairstyles highlight the natural texture of hair in a large group of people, namely African Americans.
People who wear their natural hair texture are in agreement that if their hair is neat and not distracting, it should not be a problem, and that choosing to wear natural hair does not affect their work skills or ethic.