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Dreadlocks, ‘too messy’ for the workplace?


Chasity Jones, a black woman, and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) joined forces to dispute the fact that discrimination against her current hairstyle, dreadlocks, was indeed illegal.

According to Jones, Catastrophe Management Solutions (CMS), in Mobile, Alabama, refused to hire her. Unfortunately, they did not rule in her favor, in a 3-0 decision; in fact, the 11th U.S. Court of Appeals declared that “it is legal for companies to refuse employment based on hairstyles.”

On the other hand, the EEOC lawsuit against CMS stated that, “Dreadlocks are a manner of wearing the hair that is physiologically and culturally associated with people of African descent” and, I agree.

But, before we get to that part, let’s address the fact that they are not dreadlocks; they are ‘locs.’ Now, I don’t have dreads but, it is an atrocity that another part of my culture is being stripped from my race.

Another feeling, for my black peers, family members and friends, of belonging and another restriction on being themselves.

There are many misconceptions pinned to our back like a target and every day we are shot down.

No matter our positive history, we are still accused, murdered, and now discriminated against so specifically and openly, that it even seems racist.

Where does the tyranny end? Can we survive? Because I’m almost afraid to ask, what’s next? I’m not one to invoke intolerance or indifference, but as a black person too, I’d like to proclaim equal rights just as defiantly.

So yeah, I’m experiencing a mix of emotions. I haven’t always been at an HBCU, but since I started, I am more aware of the limitations placed on my life as a black woman, and I understand the importance of being black in America and our deservingness of equality.

My appearance should not be the topic of discussion. Although, what should be considered during the employment stage is whether I have the required experience: my work ethic and lastly, indiscriminate professionalism.

Whether I get the position, or the lack there of, should be contingent upon that only. My advice is that we all embrace what makes us different, and I insist that the government stop stripping our culture away from us.

Opinion written by Cara Leathers, mass communication senior.

The Campus Echo is the official student newspaper of N.C. Central University, an HBCU in Durham with about 8,250 students. The Campus Echo is one of the most highly recognized HBCU student newspapers in the nation. In the last 15 years our print and online editions have won over 250 national and regional awards from the Black College Communication Association, the Society for Professional Journalists, the Associated Collegiate Press and the North Carolina College Media Association.

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