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Friday, August 24, 2012

Day 24: Express Ya' Self

photo credit: keepitkinky.net
For the past few days, I've been seeing Twitter and the blogosphere up in arms about an issue on the campus of Hampton University. The dean of the popular HBCU, Sid Credle, has placed a ban on the business school students, preventing them from wearing both cornrows and dreadlocs to class. Initially, I was shocked. Reading that someone had the power to tell another individual how to wear their hair caused my neck to jerk back and my eyes to squint so tight you'd think they were closed.

What do you mean you banned dreadlocs and braids???

Credle's argument was based on the premise of preparing these business degree seeking students for a professional career in their field. According to the article in Clutch Magazine, Credle "sees it as an effort to help them land corporate jobs".

I get it. You're grooming your future alumni so they can look the part as they represent your school's name when they're applying for that six-figure gig. But as a proud wearer of locs, I can't help but be a little offended at the absurdity of it all. I cannot imagine what I would have done if my alma mater required me to do away with my beloved locs because they felt it would hinder me in the future. Or even my basketball team. I remember the men's team had to shave all their facial hair for the team pictures as so they would look less intimidating. GTFOH!! Some ludicrous demand like that would have provoked top notch rebellion from me.

I agree 100% with Uriah Bethea, quoted in the Clutch article, when he states that his hairstyle should not matter. "It's my life. I should be able to do whatever I want to do." Especially when it comes to the hair that grows out of one's own head! Instead of adhering to the foolish rule, he stated that he would simply find another major.

We're in an age where natural hair is being glorified all over. Women of all ages are embracing the natural texture of their hair, learning to accept their true selves. Though there are a good percentage of women out there who have decided the natural route isn't for them, should the ones who opt for something different be both criticized and ostracized? Are they requiring the women who rock wild and crazy kinky fros to tame their manes as well?

As for braids: I have a hate/hate relationship with them now. I think their time has passed and should no longer be seen in public. But that's my own personal issue. I would, however, never think a man should be denied an opportunity because of his hairstyle, especially if he's qualified. It's not my place to judge, nor do I care about it. Who's to say these young men will still rock these braids to the board meeting after landing the job? They're in college, exercising their right to be individuals. I'm sure they're aware of the dress code their intended career field requires.

Quoted in the article, Credle states neither of these styles are directly linked to our culture. "When was it that cornrows and dreadlocks were apart of African American history? I mean Charles Drew didn't wear it. Muhammad Ali didn't wear it. Martin Luther King didn't wear it." 

My question to him is: Who gives a fawk?! It's just hair!

I get what Credle is trying to do with this ban but I don't think it is necessary. A good percentage of men and women who decide to loc their hair are doing it as a test to themselves. They're either practicing the art of patience and discipline or simply because they want to try something new. For some of them, the style will not last past five years as a result of absolute boredom with the monotony of it all.

Already aware of the negative stigma dreadlocs hold, I make sure mine are up to par, being washed and re-twisted every 3-4 weeks. I have never experienced any discrimination when it came to my hair and like I said before, I don't know what I'd do if put in that situation. The decision to grow my locs stemmed from a natural affinity for the style. I love the variety available to both men and women. I don't like the idea that in a place that's supposed to glorify being African American and instill a sense of pride and individuality, students are subconsciously being told to conform to society's norms.

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