Why being shot with hands up and denial of jobs for dreads means the same thing

Photo credit: Joshua Resnick / Shutterstock.com
Photo credit: Joshua Resnick / Shutterstock.com

Between fear being imparted in the African American community by law enforcement because of Black people being shot and killed with their hands up, and racial slurs being painted on the walls of higher learning institutions, Black people in America just can’t seem to catch a break. What’s worse is that the law doesn’t seem to be on our side in many of these cases, leaving us feeling abandoned and confused as a whole. In spite of the protesting and marches, things don’t seem to be changing as fast as we would like them to. And from the looks of it, things are not going to get any better before they get worse. That includes going as far as being denied certain jobs due to natural and cultural hairstyles.

According to nbcnews.com, “The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled against a lawsuit filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against Catastrophe Management Solutions, effectively ruling that refusing to hire someone because of their dreadlocks is legal.”

The article goes on to explain that the human resources manager, Jeannie Wilson of Catastrophe Management Solutions, commented on the potential hire, Chastity Jones’ dreadlocks, saying that “they can get messy.”

The EEOC moved to file a lawsuit against the company for this, however, the trial did not end in favor of civil rights, as the case ruled against the plaintiff. Although dreadlocks are thought of as a cultural aspect to the black community, the ruling of the lawsuit stood because hairstyles “are not immutable characteristics” according to the court of appeals.

Anyone in their right mind could see that this is clearly an unjust ruling, as natural Black hair has the ability to lock on its own if it goes untouched. Why it is acceptable to mutilate our natural bodies to fit into the workplace, is unclear, qualifications are not wrapped up in a hairstyle, and are definitely not caught up in our kinky-curly hair. To be either granted or denied an employment opportunity based on hair texture, beyond obviously being unfair, seems to also be a bad business decision, as qualified and capable candidates may be overlooked in favor of superficial stereotypes. Although it may appear to only be detrimental to potential hires being discriminated against, to employers who use this method of hiring, the joke just may be on you. In the meantime, Chastity, we wish you the best in your job search.

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