Getting' Messy with Policy and Hair written by M. Michele George
Since this time, Chasity’s case has become a legend with on life support, with a racist President seated, extolling views that reject diversity and inclusion. Chasity’s story blew up and hit the newsstands, spreading like wildfire. Since then, The Knotty Truth has focused on awareness about work-place inequities faced by people, specifically women, of color with tightly coiled-kinky hair.
In December 2017, the EEOC appealed the ruling; however, US District Court 11 refused to review the case. Once again, This District ruled that it is legal to discriminate against individuals with Dreadlocks hair stating that Dreadlocks were indeed subject to unrestricted discrimination and barriers to equal opportunity because they can ‘get messy.’ As a double whammy, the EEOC dropped the case, under the current administration. With the help of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Jones filed a motion to intervene and represent herself in her own case. To date, the courts rejected her ability to appeal the case, leaving the case dormant, impotent and the ruling unchallenged.
The US District Court 11 covers the states of GA, AL., and FL and supports discrimination against most, if not all hairstyles worn by African American women. They have ruled that biased perceptions of A. American’s inalienable right to be born with tightly coiled hair that naturally ‘locks’ into a coiled matrix that hangs due to gravity. The court has ruled that hairstyles worn by A. American’s can be “messy, unkempt, unprofessional, political, radical, too eye-catching or excessive requiring policy, to align with the right to employment.” A. American women (A), predominately, are born with hair (that happens by genetics to be tightly coiled). A. American women with tightly coiled hair choose hairstyles (B) that complement the fragile nature of tightly coiled hair to protect the hair from breaking and shredding. Because A. American women must groom their hair(C), like those with straight hair, the courts have yet to understand that A+B=C for ALL PEOPLE, not just A. American women with Dreadlocks. The last I checked, unless bald-headed, everyone grooms 'to have a respectable appearance.' In addition, this court also continues to fail to recognize and differentiate the difference between Dreadlocks, locks, Sisterlocks etc, leaving the whole ruling open to interpretation, due to inherent ignorance. Unlike others with straight hair, that tends to ‘get messy’ before combing in the morning, District 11 has notably voted to intrude and control the grooming habits of those with tightly coiled hair only, extending their power to petty bathroom aka 'potty issues.'
This ruling is not only over-reaching it is also racially-biased. Those with tightly coiled hair know that hair is often styled to complement and/or preserve the delicate nature of the hair strand. Those with tightly coiled hair know that locks are the ultimate protective hair-style protecting its’ fragile nature. Anyone born with a beautiful head of tightly coiled wooly hair knows that it is the most fragile texture with minimal protective cuticle. Anyone with tightly coiled wooly hair knows that ‘We wake up Like This’ and we must A) chemically alter our hair and to identify with hair like the ruling parties in District 11. To police those with tightly coiled hair is the epitome of discrimination.
In a world filled with rejection and denial, what can you do to protect yourself? As I wrote here, it’s important to know your employment policy(ies). An employer has the right to not hire anyone they please. They can not hire a person due to grooming differences only if it is clearly stated as an exclusion in the employee handbook Once hired, the rules change and there is recourse, so empower yourself by keeping up with rulings so you have ammunition and a precedence to share if ever asked to defend your rights to work with locks. And finally, join The Institute of Justice to keep up with the latest rulings and find legal support, and always stay current on discrimination policies and network.
And most importantly, until society catches up with our awareness, remember that natural hair, locks, dreadlocks/ locks are as professional as you are, period. If you find yourself in a position where you are considering taking down our cutting your Dreadlocks, please share your story. We just may share it with others!!
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