Note from BW of Brazil: Shameful, but the article below discusses another unfortunate matter that many black women are all too familiar with: discrimination based hairstyle/hair texture in the workplace. The archive on this bl0g is loaded with testimonies of the challenges and complexities of black women initially rejecting their natural hair due to racist beauty standards imposed by the society, eventual acceptance and celebration of their hair. it’s enough that they have to go through (ridicule from friends, family, classmates) in their own social circles, but then there is the issue of facing this same society in the competition for gainful employment.
Besides the general material featured on this blog dealing with cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair), we also have a number of articles dealing with experiences of black females being rejected or harassed (also here) in the workplace and on TV (here and here), ridiculed in song lyrics and in general having their hair being judged as “bad”. With all of this in mind, it becomes rather obvious why someone needed to pen the following piece…
“I cannot hire you with that hair”
By Jéssica Jeffer Palma via a Guest Post for Portal Geledés
We realize that black women today have assumed their natural hair and felt more determined to face the standards of beauty that society has imposed for years saying the contrary that their hair is ugly, hard, unsuitable for working in certain companies and some jobs of which I don’t understand what interferes as the important thing in a business is your experience and knowledge that can help in growth. But what I see so much on social networks are black women who are not accepted in some companies due to not having a proper appearance, ie, standardized and this has hindered their entry into the labor market.
I meet women with fascinating experiences that has the profile that large companies seek such as advanced English, having undergraduate and post-graduate (degrees) with emphasis in any area and even with experience outside Brazil, they go to an interview show how well they are trained for the position but then comes the phrase “You have everything that we seek but there’s a problem; you have to lower the volume of your hair because they will not take you seriously here coming in with this appearance” or even in that seeing them not even picking up their resumes and saying “with that hair you won’t be able to work anywhere.” But let’s go there, if the important thing is the capability, knowledge and having the profile that fits the position, how does hair interfere? Is it only the hair that interferes? Because our great entrepreneurs have to understand a fact; the black woman has cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) and loves and accepts herself so none of this will hinder the company but will add to it because people with a high with an elevated index of self-esteem and both both life and professional knowledge tend to yield more productivity in the company (we know this is true), and make it clear that the important thing for interviewers is to focus more on the advantages of having a person with a strong track record in their business and that appearance is a fact that shows her personality and not her character and professionalism.
And we also have to realize one thing, hiring prejudiced people in our businesses, the healthy environment that the workplace should have is non-existent. Because an advanced academic level and a high purchasing power doesn’t mean she has good manners and education but knowledge is what is important for the development of the function, but what makes the company stand apart besides, of course money, is teamwork and respect among them because employees who understand and communicate well make the work pay off more successfully, with quality and even creativity, because if you don’t understand that the black woman was born with cabelo crespo or cacheado (curly) hair with volume, frizz or even if she appears wearing accessories or African clothes because she feels good wearing them or even for religious reasons and you don’t respect this, with certainty you are a prejudiced person and don’t know it. As we know, no one is obliged to like our appearance, but respecting the difference of people is necessary and important for the development of we humans as much in the midst of society as in the labor market.
And by law the fact of the person’s appearance does not justify not letting her enter your business, according to the sole paragraph in the law. The same penalty is incurred, for reasons of discrimination of race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin, hindering the functional promotion. (Included by Law No. 12.288 of 2010)
Penalty: imprisonment for two to five years.
Art. 4 – Denying or hindering employment in a private company.
- 1. The same penalty for whoever, for reasons of race or color discrimination or practices resulting from prejudice of ancestry or national or ethnic origin: (Included by Law No. 12.288, of 2010).
Anyway, the fact of us being black and having cabelos crespos, cacheados, tranças (braids) ou carecas (bald) doesn’t interfere with the productivity of the company and doesn’t leave us looking sloppy for the labor market, because that is what the media has placed on our heads for us to feel inferior or even ridiculed, we should not let our identity follow a standard which is not ours to please a prejudiced society and entrepreneurs if they wish to hire more black women they have to understand that we are like this and that it’s time for you to fit us in this company culture that doesn’t accept academic black women but accepts people who are considered neat according to the suggested standard but are prejudiced and ill-educated with others. Think about this.