Do Blacks Need to Relax Their Natural Hair to Get Promoted?

This is a Question and Answer article that I found to be very informative. It was actually written by a white man in response to a black woman’s comment/question. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Peace 🙂

Healthy Scalp, Healthy Locs

Nyesha Samuel, Publisher for & Master Loctician

Do Blacks Need to Relax Their Natural Hair to Get Promoted?

By Luke Visconti

I am a Black woman from continental Africa who chooses to have natural Black hair, not relaxed or chemically altered in any way. I wear my natural hair not as some political statement but because it is the hair that God gave me and intended me to have, just as it was intended for some Caucasians to have blue eyes or blond hair.

I have heard about women and men of African descent being overlooked for promotions or outright being fired because they choose to wear their natural hair, braids, twists, mini Afros, locs and so forth. I understand that you do not represent all white people nor do you speak for the whole white race, but I wanted to know if whites in general feel disdain for natural Black hair in corporate America, or is it just an overblown issue?

Also, I have heard that the more “African” you look–dark-skinned, coarse hair (think Wesley Snipes, Whoopi Goldberg)–the more ignored and overlooked you will be in the workplace … and the more light-skinned or “whiter” you appear (think Halle Berry or Beyoncé) you appear, the easier it is to get promotions. Is this really all true? Are there “preferred” Blacks in corporate America? Isn’t diversity supposed to be inclusive of everyone–natural hair, blue eyes, fine hair, etc.?

Also, why does wearing natural hair, braids, locs, twists or any “Black” hair style that accommodates and is more healthy for our hair structure have to always be perceived as something negative, or worse, “political”? Why does the coarse hair on my head need to relaxed or chemically altered to be “presentable” in the workplace? Please be honest.


There’s no doubt in my mind that Black people have been overlooked for promotions because of natural hair or darker skin color. Psychological tests show that people most trust people who look like them. Since white men run most corporations in this country, straightened hair and/or lighter skin is going to be an advantage (disturbing, but let’s keep it real).

However, allowing a bias like this to go unchecked is detrimental to business, as hair texture has no connection to talent or ability. An inability to manage past immaterial things like this makes a company less competitive.

This is where diversity management returns on investment. Companies that manage past bias and hire, mentor and promote equitably have better talent. They are also better prepared for the future as our country becomes more diverse. Our DiversityInc Top 50 data proves that representation is tied to recruitment and retention.

This isn’t a theory; it’s a reality for companies that earn a spot on The DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity®. DiversityInc Top 50 companies have up to twice as much representation of Black, Latino and Asian people in management than the overall management work force in the United States.

Equity equals quality. That means a corporate culture that is so out of touch with reality as to not have good diversity management in 2009 is not a good place for anyone to work–not just Black people.

If you think your company “isn’t ready for natural hair,” then you should check out our career center right now. However, please consider this carefully: Sen. Obama won a decisive majority of white people’s votes, so if you think your company really isn’t “ready for that,” it may be that your perception is out of date.

I think America is ready for the Black women (and men, but this is mostly a woman’s issue) in our lives to be more natural with their hair–and I’m looking forward to it.

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8 thoughts on “Do Blacks Need to Relax Their Natural Hair to Get Promoted?

  1. I have received more negativity from other Black females about my natural hair than anyone else. I’ve been chemical free since 2010. I began with a ‘buzz-cut’ and now have 14 month old locs. I haven’t had any issues on my job.

  2. Braids as a way of starting locs is great. If I were you I’d get human hair braids done and not yarn braids. The human hair is less harsh on your own hair during the process and also not as heavy 🙂

  3. Sorry this has nothing to do with the article but i’m going natural now and eventually i’m gonna do the big chop but afterwards i want locs but i have low esteem issuse so i was wondering what was your opinion or advice on “yarn braids”…as a way of starting off my locs

  4. I think when we as a people should start accepting each others differences, and stay off the so called wagon of white acceptance of what our hair and skin should look like, then and only then will we have some type of earth shaking change in the the way others view us. Take Whitney Houston for instance when she came out with her first album cover she had a cute fro, and she was told that she looked to etnthic? What’s that all about and now she is so far gone that she just can’t think kinky! Those folks really messed her head up.
    Until we stamp out white girl wanna bes, and I just can’t see myself in kinky or enthic hair styles without a perm. Deal with what those folk say is the way we should strive to look.

  5. The statement “I understand that you do not represent all white people nor do you speak for the whole white race, but I wanted to know if whites in general feel disdain for natural Black hair in corporate America, or is it just an overblown issue?” hit a nerve and not just that one. The whole damn article. *Rant begins* I mean seriously, why were these question even asked? He gave a politically correct answer but really, why should I care what he or any other white person thinks about my hair texture or the color of my skin tone? Light skin or dark skin, straight hair or coarse hair. Which is better? What the hell? Seriously? Forget white people, we hate on us more than anybody else. You go natural and your friends are tweeting each other and your facebook wall is full of comments because you decided you just don’t want to go natural, OMG you want to loc your hair! It’s 2011 and you know what? Get over it. Love your natural hair in all it’s glory! Wear it proudly! Love thy self! NOBODY can make YOU feel inferior without YOUR consent. *Rant ends* Congratulations Sharon! Embrace your natural journey. It will be uniquely yours so rock it whatever style you choose to wear.

  6. Congratulations Sharon on the start of your natural hair journey ! I’m so proud of you 🙂 Please feel free to ask me any questions you may have as well as leaving suggestions about what hair issues you’d like me to address on the blog.

    Peace !

  7. As a 32 year old black woman who has worked in corporate america all of my adult life, I’m ready for a change. I’ve grown tired of relaxing my hair, just so I can roller set it to give it the corporate america look. Ready or not, I’ve already made the big chop…so here I come!

  8. Wow! I was truly impressed by his answer, it does fill me with confidence that we are definitely embarking on a new day. We also have to change our thinking as well just in knowing that as we accept our natural hair others will to.

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