“I really wanted to get braids but my aunt told me to wait to after the career conference. What do you think?,” asked my former classmate and friend.
I replied promptly probably with a little spice and a ton of sass.
“Honey- my hair is symbolic of my cultural identity and ethnicity. I am not ashamed nor will I assimilate into white-dominated views in order to get a job. If my hair keeps me from a position at ANY company, then I don’t want to work there anyway. I haven’t had a relaxer since 2009 and my kinks have never kept me from accomplishing my career goals.”
I went on to say that I had worn my natural hair, kinky (not straightened) to The Consortium conference where I landed 8 offers from elite companies. My hair, with all of its defiance and personality, made a statement but was hardly a negative distraction.
Prior to business school, my curls accompanied me to business meetings, formal engagements with my clients and even business dinners where I politely reminded people of which water glass to reach for.
I understand though, that some of my brown sisters are not so bold. Some of us have mothers, sisters, fathers etc. that look at our curls with disdain and us with pity. They silently pray that you will get past “this phase.” And though you don’t know much about Huey P.Newton they will assume you are getting in touch with your inner Black Panther. Perhaps, they sheepishly grin when someone asks about your hair.
I can’t silence your close critics or the unconscious ignorance of your family or friends but I hope that you can reclaim your courage, ignore naysayers and embrace your God-given tresses in ANY situation under ANY circumstances.