Dreadlocks vs. Corporate America: Real-Life Stories of Making the Choice

Two professionals stood by their hairstyles --- with no regrets

Brian Terrell, a Morehouse College graduate, was urged to cut his dreadlocks as a student and refused. He went on to intern at the White House. (Image: Terrell)

For many African Americans with dreadlocks, the pressures of cutting your hair to fit the mold of Corporate America can be commandeering. More often than not, black professionals are encouraged to do so for greater chances of employment, where African Americans remain a small minority in the workforce. But making the choice to cut or not to cut may not always be an easy decision.

For male students with dreadlocks who enroll in Hampton University’s MBA program, which currently bans ‘locks and cornrows in the classroom, that choice could not be more perplexing. The ban, which has been set in place for 11 years, recently made headlines after the school’s dean Sid Credle defended the prohibition, arguing that the hairstyles are not businesslike and will not land students employment in Corporate America. The dean cited a 99% success rate of students who found employment after completing the program.

But for Tyler Bailey, a former student in Hampton’s MBA program, the decision to cut his ‘locks was difficult.

“It was ridiculous,” says Bailey, 23. “I thought, ‘There’s no reason I should not [be allowed in the class] because I [have dreadlocks.]‘”

Bailey set up a meeting with Credle to express his reservations with the policy, which would prevent him from completing his requirements for the program. “He told me I should cut my hair, and that I wouldn’t regret the decision,” Bailey says.

Rather than giving in to the dean’s policy, which only applies to those in the MBA program, Bailey decided to change his major to business management. A year after leaving the MBA program Bailey says he ended up cutting his hair, however, the decision was a personal one and was not influenced by the his previous experience at the university.

Brian Terrell, a graduate of Morehouse College who works at a legal and civil rights firm in Chicago said he too was faced with the dilemma of cutting his ‘locks, but ultimately decided against it.

Terrell, who locked his hair for spiritual reasons, said he was once pressured to cut his hair by a Morehouse administrator at the college’s career services office. “It’s my hair. It grows from the scalp of my head. Why does it bother you?” he recalls.

Terrell says contrary to the universal idea that dreadlocks are career killers for African Americans, his ‘locks have never prevented him from landing a job. Since graduating, Terrell has interned at the White House’s Office of Presidential Correspondence and has worked for Jen Mason, who serves as the deputy chief of staff for the Office of Personnel Management.

Terrell also argues that when it comes to Corporate America’s acceptance of ‘locks and natural hair, African Americans have to begin to speak up and set their own standard. Ultimately, he says, your job should come down to your professional assets and not what’s on your head—though he admits the only people to ever express contempt for his hair has been other African Americans. His boss, who is white, compliments him on his locs, which are often styled up. “White people are fascinated,” he says.

Bailey, who entered law school at Southern University in Louisiana, says he doesn’t regret leaving Hampton’s MBA program despite later cutting his hair. “The business school is great. I respect everything Dean Credle is doing there, but having dreadlocks does not mean that anybody is less qualified or less professional.”

ACROSS THE WEB
  • JeenyusJane

    Good article Gerren!

  • Deex2

    Let’s
    face it. Hair is now a part of a person’s wardrobe, and I believe that it is
    worn based on a person’s professional career. Any hairstyle that is unkempt is a
    negative mark for any person of any color.

    When
    I started my career 4 years ago, I wore the “perm”. Two years later, I decided
    to shave my head. Why? Because I knew and accepted that the relaxer process was
    unhealthy for me. Since then, I have grown my hair out and in the process of
    locking it. No one seems to mind except African-Americans. As stated in the
    article, it’s what grows from my scalp and how I wear it should not determine
    if I am going to be a success at the position I am going for.

  • Pingback: Hampton U. B-School: Old Guard vs New World. Students Should Decide Hairstyle – - BlackandBrownNews.com (BBN)BlackandBrownNews.com (BBN)

  • http://twitter.com/AlfredEdmondJr Alfred Edmond Jr

    It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that having dreadlocks or other ‘natural’ hair styles eliminate the possibility of succeeding in business or a career. We know that there are professions, businesses and job sectors (such as government, as your White House example illustrates) where it will not be a problem. On the other hand, it is naive to believe that there are not career paths, companies and even entire industries (for example, investment banking) that are closed to people who choose to wear ‘locks.

    How you choose to wear your hair is a personal choice, as is deciding that certain jobs, career paths or professions do not mean enough for you to change or modify that choice.

    Finally, it is beyond naive to think that only (or even most) African Americans have a problem with locks.

    The reality is that African Americans are just most likely to feel free to express their pleasure or displeasure with another Black person’s hairstyle. White people know that criticizing or even commenting on a Black person’s hair can get them branded as a racist or worse, so if they can’t say something nice or complimentary, they are very unlikely to say anything at all.

    Don’t take silence for approval. In fact, in hiring situations, white people in decision making positions will never let you know how they feel about your hair–they’ll just pass over you for job interviews and hiring opportunities without ever saying why.

  • GG

    What is most interesting about this article is that all of the colleges mentioned here are historically black colleges. Why even go to a black college if identifying with your blackness is an issue?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1294317836 Yolanda Ceo Williams

      I concur! I ask that question too…..Culture, traditions, and ritualism are very important to many African Americans. Many young people seek out these historically black colleges to get clarity or to find out who they really are. Why representing natural beautiful hair is considered unprofessional? What empirical data did this come from?
      Locks did not originate from African’s, the India (Indian) is who coined this style and people of color adopted this style. The thing I disliked about this article is the fact “Locks” are referred to as “Dreadlocks”. The word dreadlock was coined by earlier time Europeans who thought that locks were dreadful, thus word dreadlock was born.

  • Sherree Saperstein

    I’ve had locs for 10 years now and I worked in corporate america when I began. It was a definite conscious decision to start and keep all these years, I worked in non-profit, for fortune 500 companies, in the finance department, and I haven’t had any problems. I work independently now and started getting more involved in politics, which is a more visual arena, but I have no thoughts on cutting them at this time and i’m not influenced by what society deems proper.

  • Todd

    I agree with Dean Credle dreadlocks are not for a professional environment. Furthermore, black colleges need to “up their game” anyways. I recently took my neice to Georgetown University and was at awe of the students appearance on campus. Upon leaving Georgetown,I felt compelled to go by Howard University. This was my first visit to the Howard…Sadly, I was amazed how DIRTY the students at Howard looked. Their dress, and SOME of their hairstyles were not conducive in my opininon for a supposedly Top University.
    Therefore, I agree with Dean Credle…If they approve dreadlocks today, next it with be sagging pants.
    Lastly, to all you critics, just look out your door at many of our young men and women. Many of them don’t have someone to tell them how to dress or appear in public. Thank God, Hampton University is raising a standard and “not feeling bad about it.”
    Hampton University keep raising the bar. In the long run you will be glad that you did.

    • Natual Beauty

      Todd, dreadlocks is not a “Black thing.” They have been worn for centuries in many different cultures all over the world. You comparing locks to sagging pants is absolutely ridiculous and ignorant. You should learn more about world history before you start trying to put down things that are considered to be a spiritual thing for many.

    • Natual Beauty

      Todd, dreadlocks is not a “Black thing.” They have been worn for centuries in many different cultures all over the world. You comparing locks to sagging pants is absolutely ridiculous and ignorant. You should learn more about world history before you start trying to put down things that are considered to be a spiritual thing for many.

    • Natual Beauty

      Todd, dreadlocks is not a “Black thing.” They have been worn for centuries in many different cultures all over the world. You comparing locks to sagging pants is absolutely ridiculous and ignorant. You should learn more about world history before you start trying to put down things that are considered to be a spiritual thing for many.

    • Natual Beauty

      Todd, dreadlocks is not a “Black thing.” They have been worn for centuries in many different cultures all over the world. You comparing locks to sagging pants is absolutely ridiculous and ignorant. You should learn more about world history before you start trying to put down things that are considered to be a spiritual thing for many.

    • Natual Beauty

      Todd, dreadlocks is not a “Black thing.” They have been worn for centuries in many different cultures all over the world. You comparing locks to sagging pants is absolutely ridiculous and ignorant. You should learn more about world history before you start trying to put down things that are considered to be a spiritual thing for many.

    • Karen

      I don’t believe you. Howard University is a fashion show. It’s an excellent school,but the kids there take there looks far more seriously than do Black children at non-HBCU’s where looks don’t matter.

      As a Harvard graduate (who had long dreads when I attended), I was shocked my first day in the doctoral program when I was greeted by so many Africans (Masters students since sadly, I was only one of two Blacks in the doctoral program at the time) with natural hair. My hairstyle was only an issue once, and then by a white professor who was surprised that I had advanced so far professionally in my field with my hair style. Even so, I support Hampton’s efforts. Students have choices and if they don’t like Hampton’s policies, they should study elsewhere. When they do go into the real world, they should practice that same line of thinking in their professional career — they should chose a company they for which they would be proud to work.

  • Shaka3000

    Consider the often-quoted words of Woodson: “When you control a man’s
    thinking you do not have to worry about his actions. You do not have to
    tell him not to stand here or go yonder. He will find his ‘proper place’
    and will stay in it. You do not need to send him to the back door. He
    will go without being told. In fact, if there is no back door, he will
    cut one for his special benefit. His education makes it necessary.”

    There is a large portion of the African-American population that still operates under the mind set of the Mis-Educated negro and the points laid out in the Willie Lynch letter, “The making of a slave”. We do it to our selves and think that this behavior is normal.
    When you change your hair to fit someone else’s cultural norm and that norm has for centuries held contempt and hatred for everything about you, you are the Mis-educated Negro. Ask yourself what it is you are trying to conform to or fit into, and what conforming will do to your soul.

    • Lisa

      Nice post, but the Willie Lynch letter is fake.

    • Lisa

      Nice post, but the Willie Lynch letter is fake.

      • HannibalMrs.

        Though the authenticity of the document has been challenged, the message is very apparent, and has been demonstrated time and time again!

      • bruceamitchell

        Though possibly a fake, it is relevant and has retained it’s apparent topicality.

    • Lisa

      Nice post, but the Willie Lynch letter is fake.

    • Lisa

      Nice post, but the Willie Lynch letter is fake.

    • HannibalMrs.

      WELL SAID!

    • blkeng2

      I agree that ones hair style should not hinder our career, but reality is, that it could. For that one person, that makes it higher with his/her locks, there are thousands that are hindered by them. What we have is one more small thing, by a smaller group, wanting the larger body to be acceptant. This is why today, our black community is in such disarray, because we have a small group, criminals, thugs and gangs, wanting to impose there life style on the majority…..but thats just me.

      • CSmith

        Bikeng2, I have to respectfully disagree. The point is that having locs doesn’t stop someone from getting hired to do a job successfully. I believe one of the many problems with our black community is that we try so hard to get other communities to accept us instead of creating effective economic infrastructures that are not defined by others. And to compare a professional who happens to have locs or natural hair to criminals and thugs is completely inaccurate and unfortunate. Companies can hire whomever they want to and it doesn’t affect my world or stop me from doing what I have to do. We are so stuck on this one thing that MIGHT stop me from getting a job when, in actuality, hiring managers worry about alot more than that. Years ago, qualified, black professionals wouldn’t be hired because of their skin tone. What would be your solution then? To bleach? I’ll tell you what their solution was…they created their own businesses. We created our own self-sufficient economies.

    • Mansitioning

      “The Miseducation of Hampton University – How the ban on locs and cornrows began” for Carol’s Daughter
      http://www.transitioningmovement.com/Default.aspx?CN=A8585E0375BD

  • E j

    White people are not fascinated by dreads. They are laughing behind your back.
    As an image consultant, I have advised against this look. I have seen firsthand how this posture negatively impacts the job search endeavor. The one case mentioned is isolated.
    The norm is markedly different. EJ

    • Natural Beauty

      I don’t know about that. I have had whites say that they wish they had my hair. It’s absolutely gorgeous! Are you white, Ej? I think you are.

    • http://twitter.com/GratitudeRising Gratitude Rising

      EJ, are you saying that the only way my hair is acceptable for positive job search results is if I straighten it so that it looks more in line with the women of European heritage around me?

  • E j

    Look folks bottom line, you don’t own the company and you cannot set the dress code. You are free to display your ethenicity by wearing dreads, but be ready to suffer the consequences and excluded from the job market. Ej

  • MissX

    Can someone please explain why locking your hair is “unprofesssional”, I keep hearing this argument but no explanation as to how having locked and natural hair impairs your ability to conduct your job or complete a task successfully……..

    • Mr. H

      IMO, the locks are considered unprofessional because of the appearance. Its not considered “neat’ or “clean” or “professional” to many, even within the black community. Personally, I’ve seen dreads that were very neatly done, as well as hair that looked filthy and messy. Business have to maintain an image and messy hair detracts from the presentation. Thus, dreadlocks are considered a no-no. My feeling is that the hair should be neat and clean. If you can do that with dreads then fine. If not, then you need to do something else. Its a matter of neatness. Messy hair may also mean poor personal hygiene and personal care.

  • SisterRed

    Most of the time the ones with dreadlocks is the more intelligent one WORD

  • NSB

    As a Hampton alumnus that studied under Dr. Credle, I think what’s overlooked in the media is his background and how it influenced his views. Having spent his career as a CPA working with Big Four accounting firms (which tend to be very conservative in culture), I’d think his perspective is more about preparing students to adapt to corporate culture. Earl Graves (CEO of Black Enterprise) also takes this position.I don’t think his intent is to denigrate traditionally African or Afro-American styles or forms of expression. But it does address the reality that, especially in certain organizations, there is discrimination based upon (perceived) appearance, and to prepare accordingly. I can say with 100% certainty that Credle has seen promising minority candidates passed over by his colleagues and appearance was a legitimate or illegitimate reason to justify it. Hampton has an excellent business school and MBA program. Most if all of my professors agreed that professionalism is more important than hairstyle, however some organizations are less tolerant than others. And as a businessperson I value performance over appearance. As the workforce becomes more diverse and globalized, I think this will be less of an issue.I have many friends/colleagues with locs on Wall St. and with F50 companies, all of whom are competent and respected in their professions. Many organizations are flexible in terms of dress code, however major accounting, consulting, and law firms (which recruit at Hampton often) have a more conservative business culture.

    • bruceamitchell

      That is all well and good, however, the question that begs an answer is how long? Does this view languish as axiomatic in perpetuity? Is the “Black” man capable beyond a servile nature? If so, under what conditions. If not, why? To elevate the discussion beyond the mundane workings of subsistance materialism, philosophically, let’s ask how and why will the true self of the be discovered and truly freed so that the dynamisim of African Americans can be manifested outside the confines of the counter culture?

      • NSB

        I agree that we should look at this at a macro level. The debate as to whether this affirms that African cultural norms are inferior to Anglo-American cultural norms is somewhat misleading.
        Adapting to another culture to do business with them is not self-deprecating. Rather, it represents a larger consciousness, which is the need to secure our own existence for future generations by acquiring resources. In pre-colonial Africa, the Songhai, Nubians, Egyptians (Kemites), and Yoruba all recognized this need, and established themselves as valued trading partners with their European and Asian counterparts, thus acquiring wealth and influence. In later times, the Ottomans, Ashkenazi Jews, and more recently, the Chinese and Koreans have done the same.
        All of the aforementioned groups, to some degree, adopted the customs, language and style of dress of their neighbors in order to build relationships with them, but also retained the foundations of their own heritage and culture. Resilient societies bend, but do not break. Ironically enough, the Asian economies which imitated the US and UK are now emerging as the new global superpowers, and Western business executives must now learn and adopt Eastern languages and business customs.
        Success in commerce and free enterprise is critical to preserving and perpetuating our culture. As we do business with people of different backgrounds, we must adapt accordingly. This is not a subordination of our cultural identity, unless we define our identity by hairstyle and style of dress which is problematic in and of itself.
        I agree that there are the spiritual and intellectual ramifications of limiting self-expression, but one rarely achieves spiritual balance when he is starving or subservient, or when his fellow man is starving or subservient and he is powerless to change it.

    • http://twitter.com/Mansitioning Mansitioning

      “The Miseducation of Hampton University – How the ban on locs and cornrows began” for Carol’s Daughter
      http://www.transitioningmovement.com/Default.aspx?CN=A8585E0375BD

  • NSB

    As a Hampton alumnus that studied under Dr. Credle, I think what’s overlooked in the media is his background and how it influenced his views. Having spent his career as a CPA working with Big Four accounting firms (which tend to be very conservative in culture), I’d think his perspective is more about preparing students to adapt to corporate culture. Earl Graves (CEO of Black Enterprise) also takes this position.I don’t think his intent is to denigrate traditionally African or Afro-American styles or forms of expression. But it does address the reality that, especially in certain organizations, there is discrimination based upon (perceived) appearance, and to prepare accordingly. I can say with 100% certainty that Credle has seen promising minority candidates passed over by his colleagues and appearance was a legitimate or illegitimate reason to justify it. Hampton has an excellent business school and MBA program. Most if all of my professors agreed that professionalism is more important than hairstyle, however some organizations are less tolerant than others. And as a businessperson I value performance over appearance. As the workforce becomes more diverse and globalized, I think this will be less of an issue.I have many friends/colleagues with locs on Wall St. and with F50 companies, all of whom are competent and respected in their professions. Many organizations are flexible in terms of dress code, however major accounting, consulting, and law firms (which recruit at Hampton often) have a more conservative business culture.

  • NSB

    As a Hampton alumnus that studied under Dr. Credle, I think what’s overlooked in the media is his background and how it influenced his views. Having spent his career as a CPA working with Big Four accounting firms (which tend to be very conservative in culture), I’d think his perspective is more about preparing students to adapt to corporate culture. Earl Graves (CEO of Black Enterprise) also takes this position.I don’t think his intent is to denigrate traditionally African or Afro-American styles or forms of expression. But it does address the reality that, especially in certain organizations, there is discrimination based upon (perceived) appearance, and to prepare accordingly. I can say with 100% certainty that Credle has seen promising minority candidates passed over by his colleagues and appearance was a legitimate or illegitimate reason to justify it. Hampton has an excellent business school and MBA program. Most if all of my professors agreed that professionalism is more important than hairstyle, however some organizations are less tolerant than others. And as a businessperson I value performance over appearance. As the workforce becomes more diverse and globalized, I think this will be less of an issue.I have many friends/colleagues with locs on Wall St. and with F50 companies, all of whom are competent and respected in their professions. Many organizations are flexible in terms of dress code, however major accounting, consulting, and law firms (which recruit at Hampton often) have a more conservative business culture.

  • NSB

    As a Hampton alumnus that studied under Dr. Credle, I think what’s overlooked in the media is his background and how it influenced his views. Having spent his career as a CPA working with Big Four accounting firms (which tend to be very conservative in culture), I’d think his perspective is more about preparing students to adapt to corporate culture. Earl Graves (CEO of Black Enterprise) also takes this position.I don’t think his intent is to denigrate traditionally African or Afro-American styles or forms of expression. But it does address the reality that, especially in certain organizations, there is discrimination based upon (perceived) appearance, and to prepare accordingly. I can say with 100% certainty that Credle has seen promising minority candidates passed over by his colleagues and appearance was a legitimate or illegitimate reason to justify it. Hampton has an excellent business school and MBA program. Most if all of my professors agreed that professionalism is more important than hairstyle, however some organizations are less tolerant than others. And as a businessperson I value performance over appearance. As the workforce becomes more diverse and globalized, I think this will be less of an issue.I have many friends/colleagues with locs on Wall St. and with F50 companies, all of whom are competent and respected in their professions. Many organizations are flexible in terms of dress code, however major accounting, consulting, and law firms (which recruit at Hampton often) have a more conservative business culture.

  • Dee

    Another instance of our self hatred. There is absolutely nothing wrong with locs in the workplace. I agree that people not of African descent are fascinated with them. What there should be a war on is this trend of pants hanging to show underwear.

  • Dee

    Another instance of our self hatred. There is absolutely nothing wrong with locs in the workplace. I agree that people not of African descent are fascinated with them. What there should be a war on is this trend of pants hanging to show underwear.

  • Dee

    Another instance of our self hatred. There is absolutely nothing wrong with locs in the workplace. I agree that people not of African descent are fascinated with them. What there should be a war on is this trend of pants hanging to show underwear.

  • Dee

    Another instance of our self hatred. There is absolutely nothing wrong with locs in the workplace. I agree that people not of African descent are fascinated with them. What there should be a war on is this trend of pants hanging to show underwear.

  • gayleaa

    I feel that LOCKS like any other hairstyle, have to be kept up, groomed. If its not maintained, and some people don’t maintain them properly, then its a turn off. If we are talking about dreadlocs that the Rastafarians wear, then I have to agree. Its not a professional look. I have seen some brothers in a suit with locs that were on point and I could not even think of a more professional look than that. But I also think a company has a right to set the standards and dress codes as they see fit. In my day, it was a big issue with the ‘afros’ so I can understand.

  • JMatt

    It’s pitiful that in 2012 we are still
    imprisoning ourselves. We operating in an
    analog space while the world has gone digital.
    Dean Credle is worried about appearances so his MBA students can get
    jobs on Wall Street or a boutique consulting firm. News flash:
    these firms are not the hot ticket now (especially after the 2008
    financial crisis). Maybe back in the day
    going to work for Goldman, Morgan, Deloitte or BCG was the hot ticket but today
    it’s Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple (i.e., tech). These are GLOBAL firms that embrace diversity
    because they serve a diverse market.
    They care about what’s in your head and the contribution to the bottom
    line versus what hair style you’re wearing.
    Now this assumes that a graduate want to work in Corporate America. In today’s business environment, more and
    more Black graduates are starting their own business like many African
    Americans did at the turn of the 20th century (primarily because of
    segregation). I have to question the
    strength of a program that focuses on the superficial versus using that effort
    to provide a better, more dynamic learning experience and viewpoint for its
    students. To quote Dap from School
    Daze: “Wake up!”………Hampton, it’s not
    1982 but 2012.

  • HannibalMrs

    First, I WOULD NEVER send a child of mine to a “BLACK COLLEGE” why would I NOT want my child to learn EVERYTHING that the European and other races have to offer, it is not a “BLACK” world, learning diversity, and engaging with ALL people is part of the WORLD. Next, That is some UNCLE TOM FOLLERY at it’s best, to express disdain for the way someone styles their hair NATURALLY. It goes deeper than the hair, they don’t want to see THOSE PEOPLE coming because the hair represents PRIDE, (not apologizing for who they are by trying to look like what we are not,being ourselves), SPIRITUALITY, STRENGTH, and every thing they teach you not to be, seems to me they are teaching to CONFORM. I would be embarrassed to associate myself with those kind of people. This will unfortunately be the type of ignorance my children will have to encounter in life, no matter what they achieve, if their hair is “Nappy” OUR OWN PEOPLE will turn their backs on them. SHAME!

  • http://www.facebook.com/nate.davis.906 Nate Davis

    WOW… As a black person, I am appalled. I wish I had been told that I had to cut my locs. Maybe that is why my degree from a non-HBCU is valued more. I hate this is happening.. Now kind of glad that I didn’t attend form my graduate degree. Self-Hate even in higher education… So Sad..

  • Nat

    I’m a woman, so my experience is a bit different. I work for a state government as an attorney. It is very important that I look professional on a daily basis. I have dreadlocks. I’ve had them for four years and before that I had an afro for nearly ten years. First of all, using white people’s reaction to your hair as a barometer for employment opportunity is inherently racist and self defeating. Not every person who interviews you will be white or inexperienced with black people. Second, I have never had a negative reaction to my hair from a professional white person or a professional black person. I get heaps of compliments and questions about how I achieve various styles. Third, the comparison between “well maintained” and unkempt locs is silly. I white man with greasy hair, dandruff and a comb-over is less likely to be hired than a white man with a crew cut. No hair should be unkempt in a professional setting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/angel.stjames Angelo Martinez

    It’s always blacks condemning other blacks, white people love my hair! Though I have braids and not locks and I attended an Ivy League school rather than an HBCU.

  • blackbabafromhell

    The term Dreadlock is being used incorrectly. Those with Dreadlocks are of the Rastafarian faith. All others with locked hair simply have locks and even then, locks are still different.

  • Soulstice

    I’m all for having dress codes because I think it’s helpful. What I’m against is making such a personal and permanent decision based on what somebody else thinks is right. They are in school! They should be advised that their hair could be an issue during a job hunt, but not denied admittance to a program because of it.

  • Reset Your Mindset

    I can’t imagine in this day and age BLACK people can’t have their own identity. Educated individuals still perpetuate a slave mentality. Be yoursel, Love the skin you are in!!!

  • Hans P

    This is Ridiculous, as a Black man with Dreadlocks I have had a very successful career in corp america. In particular the Banking industry. Now I own multiple businesses and Sell High end luxury real estate in NYC Manhattan market. One should never let anyone, any institution and even corp america tell to cut your loss due to a “JOB” hiring.. Thats just nonsense.. I was told to do so by peers when I was applying for Banking position.. I simply said watch me- If they dont like my locs, i dont need to be working for them.. Go after what you want, no one should tell you otherwise.. Mr. HP http://www.Hansponline.com

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_H7WINUFWXFHM52HZACCY5IWFDM Cheryl

    What I think is missing in this discussion is that since African Americans are the primary people who loc their hair or who have naturally curly hair discrimination based on that is against the law and it does not matter if that person is African American or not who is discriminating. I would sue Hampton in federal court if they tried to dictate how I wear my hair. It is so ironical to me that we tare he ones who feel we have the right to to discriminate and be racists. Instead of demanding that Hampton MBA students comply with racists policies that are biased against them they really should be encouraging them to break down the unspoken and discriminatory barriers over hairstyles and or start their own businesses. It is humiliating and psychologically harmful to have other people dictate what you should look like. Requesting that employees dress professionally is somewhat acceptable because everyone has to comply with dress codes.

  • CSmith

    I’ve had my locs for 14 years…since towards the end of high school. I’ve worked as an accountant and financial analyst is the financial services and hedge fund industries in NYC, NJ, and Greenwich, CT. The only problem I’ve had was with a black person, a recruiter early in my career, that was in his mid 40′s to early 50′s at the time. All my opportunities came from white people and NOT my own. Many hiring managers “silently” discriminate based upon race altogether; however, it is difficult to prove. I believe that if a hiring manager does not hire you based upon his/her “silent” issue with your hair, then sobeit! In that situation, perhaps, God has spared you from what’s to come. There’s a belief that if one jumps through all these hoops to fit into some European mold that things will be better. That’s not always the case. I’ve seen 1st hand where someone did all that “hoop-jumping” and still managed to get the short end of the stick. At the end of the day, companies care about their bottom line. And, if you no longer fit into someone’s corporate equation then you are expendable. On Wall St all people are expendable, unless you are able to convey your perceived value to a company at the right time.

    Anyhow, I constantly get compliments from people about my locs b/c I keep them fresh and clean…btw, they reach my backside. Whether you have locs or a perm, you must take care of yourself. I’ve seen “unkempt” people with straight hair. More power to the black professionals who choose not to live in a box that our elders try to put us in, regardless of their well intentions. Work smart, work hard, stay professional, have a balanced life by keeping things in the proper perspective, stay humble, and let’s create our own economy!

  • Raphael

    What is all this with hair?
    When is this dreadlocks a “black” thing?
    My point being, because one is asked to cut one’s dreadlocks, does not
    necessarily mean that the request is against black culture.

    Where is there a plethora of dreadlocks to say that wearing
    it, or being asked to cut it, is a cultural assault – as opposed to a fashion
    statement and an adjustment of fashion?
    Take a glance of all of Africa…
    Where is dreadlocks there a cultural thing? Actually, you won’t find anywhere.

    Dreadlocks became a way of Jamaican Rastafarians in their
    interpretation of their religion, which takes segments of the Old Testament
    that says the hair shouldn’t be cut below the cheek bone … to not cut their
    hair at all.

    Even in Jamaica
    itself, MOST Jamaicans do NOT wear dreadlocks.

    I worked with a lady of a Sikh background who told me that,
    in the Sikh tradition, men are NOT to cut their hair at all… and, additionally,
    men are not to let their hair be seen outside of the home. So, they wear turbans. They dress their young boys with scarves over
    their scalps from the time that they are born.
    You can imagine that if a male in that community decides to cut HIS
    hair, he would be derided.

    The lady I work with back in the 1970s, told me that her
    dad, engineer trained, wearing his turban, thought that his turban and hair were
    preventing him from getting a job. He
    decided to cut his hair. It was a MAJOR
    SHOCK to his family. But, he felt he had
    to do it to get employed.

    Wearing one’s hair in dreadlocks is one’s personal
    choice. Wearing one’s hear in a crew
    cut, or wearing one’s hair in a pony tail, or going bald headed all have
    issues. I still remember when the
    Beatles became popular, and they had long hair, which immediately gave rise to
    the Hippy movement of growing one’s hair long.

    Schools are just that.
    Schools!!! Some require certain
    discipline of dress, and even hair, and even language, and even clothing. If you don’t want to adjust to those things,
    then go to another school.

    • bruceamitchell

      So sad.

    • eeez

      I live by the saying an injustice anywhere is an injustice for us all. Suppose dread was the thing and if you had a crew cut you couldn’t get certain jobs. I yearn for the day when we can all embrace ourselves and not look over our shoulder in fear of ridicule ostracism or for approval. As a professional you take pride in your presentation in your work and in yourself. Company should hire based on qualifications and character, curbside appeal however (hair, complexion, teeth, beauty, accents) too often outweigh objectivism in the workplace. This affects BLACKS more so as Sikhs can point to religion blacks point to culture which is born of Rastafarian roots. So your options then are wear your weave embrace western standards of beauty, get with the program of moving further away from a concept of your own beauty and we’ll pay you handsomely. But leave any remnants of knowledge and love of self at home. I mean we live in a world where as a black person you’re deemed anti-whatever for expressing yourself, remind me to ask permission next time when i make a decision as to who I am and not what they want me to be.

  • Alma

    I normally don’t make comments, but they are called “locks” not dreadlocks. Think about the word “dread”.

  • BlkEng2

    I disagree, that “it is only, other african americans, that find locks inappropriate”……I believe it’s only other african americans, that will vocalize it to someone who has dreads. As a african american professional, i personally do not support dreads in the business arena. To me its equalivant to african american ladies, wearing big ear rings in the office place. thats just not the place to express that part of our culture. No more, then a work place would be a place for our white counterpart, to sport “mo hawks”, spike hair, or different color hair for that matter. There is a time and place for everything, including our “cultural styles”, but then thats just me …..

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000945982402 E.a. Savannah

    I find it interesting that ‘we’ as black folk tend to waste our time arguing about and oppressing each other over issues that white folk, by and large, no longer care about. They did such a ‘good job’ on us that they no longer have to do anything. We’ll do it ‘fur em’.

  • http://www.facebook.com/thenotoriousjp Jp Payton

    Personally, I see it both ways which I interpret it to mean it is completely up to the individual. I work In pharma sales and although there was some question/resistance from some folks initially (black folk/elder white), all became quite adjusted and it was all good. Granted having dreads can allow for a stereotype to permeate (still haven’t quite figured out why), but I do my job well and have been able to excel accordingly. This is all that matters in the 1st place, right?

    In the end, if you want ur locs “just do it.” However be aware the person u may be working for may not have the same thoughts about ur rationale behind why u may want 2 loc up in ur workplace. Unless u have ur own entrepreneurial endeavor they ultimately are responsible for payin or not paying you…

    Choose wisely, my friends…

  • Wise

    I started locking my hair in ’98. Fresh out of school and I was initially concerned about how I would be accepted in the workforce. Well, It’s 2012 and I never experienced a problem or been denied a job because of my hair. I’ve always keep them neat and shoulder length. Black and white folks compliment me on my hair. The world is changing and if you can not express yourself and have to conform to a companies idea of your self expression then maybe you shouldn’t work for them. It’s always about the $ not your hair.

  • POM-J

    Its such a travesty that one has to compete not based on their qualifications professionally but their biological appearance in order to be employed. Not to mention, most of the discrimination and prejudice comes from intra racism. These historically black universities should be ashamed of themselves for rejecting students from their programs based off ones hair texture, length, and style. I guess they forgot what discrimination, prejudice, black codes, bigotry, and all the other negative connotations that stifled and stagnated their progress felt like or is it that they are just trying to be accepted as the “token black” in cooperate America? What ever the case may be, our race has helped to take our people back several hundred years without the help of the so called “Man.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/william.lathan William Lathan

    I’ve heard the same thing before. When ever a style is unique to black men, many of the elders get confused (i.e., afro, curls, flat-tops, etc.). My brothers who run the MBA programs should focus on the ranking of their program instead of the style of the students (paying customers).

  • Miss T

    To suggest that one may think about making a change upon graduation is one thing, but to strictly enforce on a collegiate level while matriculating is absurd. Did the Indians have to take off their turbans? Did the Jews have to remove their yarmulkes or the muslims remove their kufi’s?

  • http://twitter.com/femrica Femrica

    Bottom line, chart your own course, found your own companies and you can wear your hair any way you want; but shouldn’t a school have the right to impose “standards”?

  • http://twitter.com/ScotlandBailey Scotland Bailey

    I agree w/Bailey. Professional and Qualification has to do with who the individual is as a person. Not the way the person looks. Great article!

  • Kamal Al-Adil

    I really love this story but this doesn’t mean everyone must follow your example … For instance not everyone is as fortunate as you are and not everyone lives within an non racial community. Racism is hidden now and that means many people will be stereotype greater than ever even by the name one keep. Although I am proud to hear our courage and resilience….

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