Why The ‘Locs Discrimination’ Case Is Great News For The Black Community

curly blonde locs

Recently, there’s been a lot of uproar over a recent court case that upheld the notion that banning locs in the workplace is not discrimination.

This stemmed from a company that offered a young black woman named Chastity Jones a job but reversed it because she had locs and apparently locs “could get messy” and look unprofessional as she was later informed. So all the education she received, and the applications and qualifying tests she likely had to endure to originally receive the job offer flew out the window once they saw how she looked.

A U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Catastrophe Management Solutions, affirming that it’s legal for companies to refuse employment based on hairstyles. Their logic is as follows: No hairstyle is inherently linked to any particular race. Though they recognize dreadlocks are mostly worn by black people, the hairstyle is not an immutable characteristic of black people, and therefore not grounds for racial discrimination.

She was outraged, and understandably so.

I could go on a rant about how this clearly shows that (certain) looks triumph education, no matter how much knowledge you may possess. Or how something as simple as a hairstyle that embraces who you truly are will cost you your dream job, even though all hairstyles and textures can be styled in a professional looking manner-yes even locs. Or how this ruling targets the majority of people who have locs (cough cough African-Americans). But I won’t go on a rant (even though I sort of just did).

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News flash: Catastrophe Management Solutions (the company in headlines after their controversial recension) is not the only one doing this. And Chastity Jones is definitely not the only person this has happened too. She’s just one of the few that has publicized her outrage.

Going from “the cream of the crop” all way down to certain minimum wage jobs, you’ll find corporations that implement these same unorthodox methods of employing citizens. I’ve formerly worked at Carowinds, an amusement park in between NC and SC (my first job ever and boy did I hate it). That was years ago, but I do remember reading on that application that locs were not permitted in the workplace. And that job paid a whopping $7.25 per hour.

But how can appearance really determine someone’s capabilities? Are there scientific tests on this? I’ve never seen one. I mean, why can’t we just dress the way we want to? Who came up with the image of the “Corporate” business attire that’s a requirement to land any “professional” job?

Nope! I think this is all saying something else.

They want you to conform

professional locs man in suit

Seems to me one of the top most argued angles when dealing with almost any controversy, involves the fairness of differing demographics. Because, let’s face it, when any type of change is implemented, there will always be one group that’s affected the most. That’s just a way of life. Like an action and reaction (for my science lovers). This issue is however, minorities, women, and lower class citizens seems to be taking the highest blow. All the time.

So this tells me the “cream of the crop” are indirectly saying we need to be more like them or risk getting left behind and beat up by the stipulations they set up to keep them at the tippity-top.

But how can we be like them if our skin color can’t change? How can we be like them if the universe will never allow our hair to lay flat whenever humidity is in the air? How can we be like them when our hair is so beautifully kinky, curly and coily and we want to do so much with it?

The answer is we can’t. Nor should we want to be.

I had a slightly different reaction than most others when I was aware of this lawsuit. I felt peace. This story made me realize just how much intelligence, world-changing philosophies, future inventions and profitable ideas corporations are willing to walk away from because someone showed up as themselves. Because up until that point, Catastrophe Management Solutions loved everything about Chastity on paper. So the only obvious thing to conclude is when they finally put a face to the name on paper, her chances were obliterated.

But all is not lost. Trust me, this is actually very good news! It is time we put our brains together and show the “cream of the crop” what we CAN do.

So take your talent where it will be appreciated

karenafter For a black person in a very confusing society, and one that’s struggling to understand what it truly means to be “American”, you have to take it upon yourself to not subject your emotions to the cruel treatment that’s still out there! Because until the corporations that implement or act unaware of this discrimination (I believe in spite of what the judge ruled, discrimination is exactly what this case was) realize what they’re doing is immoral or until they are penalized for it, nothing will change!  

But I know a few places where that’s almost 100 percent less likely to happen: Black businesses.

Slow down me for a second and awaken that psychological, analytical side of you. If you really think about our value to the United States, it’s really only been about one thing—money. Slaves were brought to America to surge production of many crops and resources to produce—money. Discrimination and racism continued after this period and even though eventually they were forced to treat us as “citizens” it did not mean they had to treat us well. We went from working for free, against our will, to working for the minimal amount we could ever get, also against our will, because we had to eat right? We couldn’t just let the progress we did make vanish by us dying? But our hard work with minimal pay still made the “cream of the crop” wealthy.

Now we should definitely be proud that we have overcome so much as a race but we still have work to do. Realize, these are hurdles and we haven’t yet crossed the finish line and as we’re working to improve our situations, you better believe oppressors are working to keep it exactly the same (and make money from it all).

How many times have we been outraged about a controversial bias targeted towards the black community and then we threatened to stop giving them our black dollars? I always thought we were on the right track until I see that we were just talking and not taking action. Because as soon as Black Friday or some “money-spending” holiday rolls around, we’re fighting everyone in sight for that new iPhone. Pouring our “black dollars” back into those who only value what we can give to them and not the other way around. We can talk and post memes on social media until we’re blue in the face, but when, and how, are we actually going to do what we’re saying? What’s the hold up?

According a well-researched article by Gary A. Johnson of BlackMenInAmerica.com, 42 million black Americans make up about $1.1 trillion of the money spent in America each year. Yes we do get some cheddar!

But can you guess our top category of expenditure? It’s tobacco and alcohol. Now I’m not here to debate on what we should really be spending our money on but this shows you just how strategic these “white” companies are. Because I know (if you’re a black person within a black community) you can get to the nearest tobacco or liquor store in 2 minutes. Tops. Johnson outlines that a dollar stays in the black community for just 6 hours before it’s transacted into a white company, while a dollar circulates for roughly 17 days in the white community. And you can find this to be fairly accurate: Think about the last time you got a nice lump sum of money. What did you do with it?

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Imagine what that $1.1 trillion we spend annually could do for black businesses if we shift our money to them? There’s a black business in almost every profitable niche that you could think of. We just never really knew it. Beauty, banks, real estate, daycare, restaurants, fashion, news, and education are just a few areas where black businesses are set up, running and waiting for us to help them flourish. And, realistically, WE are the only ones that can do it.

Again, how do we do it? By investing, spending our money, and working for these black businesses. It really is that simple!

I’ve always been one to say, “If you can’t (or won’t) help me, I will find a way.” Because I’m a girl that likes pascal colors, floral print, and loose fit clothing. I can make it look very professional and feel confident in it. So if your excuse is you can’t deal with my frizzies in fear that they’ll come alive and eat you or something crazy, then you’re saying you just can’t deal with me. You don’t like me, not because of my character and professionalism, but because of my appearance. And because of that, you don’t deserve my intelligence and skills I have to offer that could’ve taken your business to new heights.

Because I’m a smart individual! And so is Chastity and so are you! And we shall go where we’re valued. At the end of the day, doesn’t it just feel good to be in an environment where you are wanted and you never have to question that?

So to that brave young woman who took a stand to raise awareness for discrimination on locs in the workplace, know that I am with you! I support you! And I even got my faux locs crocheted in to prove it!