Why don’t you wear your hair natural?
Discrimination at workplace as a result of being black in a white dominated environment is not a new occurrence. This has happened since time immemorial when blacks and white started working together. Statistics on black professionals by careerbuilder.com reveal that approximately 30 percent of the African American workers have faced discrimination because of their skin color, hair color, or accent (Minchin, 2013). Unfortunately, the offenders in these cases are rarely held accountable hence encouraging discrimination in the professional world. According to a survey on discrimination in America, discrimination in the professional world comes in different ways and phases. Common forms of discrimination include not having one’s concerns addressed, failure to be given credit for an individual’s work, ignorance of one’s ideas, and co-workers making disparaging comments before the discriminated workers. Apparently, other people are denied the same training opportunities as other workers while others are not assigned projects that may offer them greater visibility in the company (Minchin, 2013).
In her article, “Why Don’t You Wear Your Hair Natural?’ and Other Things NOT to Say to Blacks”, Carolynn Johnson points out some of the statements made by the offenders in the professional world. Her interview of the two black ladies reflects the extent of discrimination black women face in relation to their skin color, accent, and hair. For instance, she brings up the fact that asking a black woman why she does not wear her natural hair as offensive. Evidently, most of the black women have kinky hair, which sometimes is not considered as neat in the workplaces hence forcing such women to use relaxers.
Johnson’s article gives the reader insight into some of the statements that are made innocently or intentionally, but cause adverse effects on black people. For instance, concluding that an individual is from a particular city or town just because of his or her color appears to be derogatory. Additionally, assuming that a black person can only manage to attend a good white school through scholarship is choosing to look down upon the black person. Evidently, Johnson’s article brings one to the realization that black professionals often face alone times in the workplaces. Most black professionals such as lawyers, doctors, architects, accountants, and so on, in the white collar jobs may require specialized credentialing to work in the racial minority areas (Mjagkij, 2013).
Working in a white dominated environment comes with its own unique challenges for the black professionals. Despite the outright discrimination, which a huge number of individuals still face in the present working environments, psychological costs are also incurred. A study of the black professional workers in a white environment reveals that most workers ensured that they treaded carefully so as to fully manage their emotions (Minchin, 2013). This was to ensure that their emotions were in line with the racial environments that they inhabited. For example, most of the women relaxed their kinky hair to fit into the professional environment world as painted by their white counterparts.
From this article, one gathers the idea that blacks who are employed in the white domineered places have little or no motivation from their leadership. As Johnson interviewee states, “That’s who I see every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror. I don’t have the option or the luxury of seeing myself differently and I’m OK with that” (Johnson, 2013). This statement reflects a demotivated worker who is not proud o what she does. Seemingly, her position as a black worker is not appreciated and works only to fulfill her needs. Given an option, such a worker would move out of her workplace and go to a different working environment. The use of the word ‘luxury’ equally reflects how the interviewee feels about being black. The slave mentality appears to be alive in the psyche of the black workers. From the article, one can point out the fact that black workers are still struggling with trust issues. Black women who do not have relaxed hair are not sure whether they will be received positively in their workplace.
“Are you from [fill in inner city here]?” is a statement that reflects failure in the systems of employment of the organizations. This statement undermines the leadership of the blacks revealing the fact that there is an assumption of where they come from. The people who lead this particular team in organizations should get rid of the assumptions that blacks come from the ghettos and slums. The association of blacks with poverty or low standard lives is a good breeding ground for discrimination of blacks in the workplaces. Leaders contribute to such incidences by asking such questions in public or in privacy.
Finally, discrimination in the workplaces, especially in the white dominated areas should not be encouraged. Leaders should play their role of ensuring that all individuals are treated the same. Both white and black people have the right to advance in their careers regardless of their color, hair, height or accent.
Johnson, C. (2013). Why Don’t You Wear Your Hair Natural?’ and Other Things NOT to Say to Blacks. Retrieved from http://www.diversityinc.com/things-not-to-say/dont-wear-hair-natural-things-say-blacks/
Minchin, T. (2013). Hiring the Black Worker: The Racial Integration of the Southern Textile (1960-1980). London: UNC Press Books.
Mjagkij, N. (2013). Organizing Black America. New York: Routledge.