Hampton Waves Goodbye to the ‘Corporate Thug’
Hampton University has officially banned cornrows and dreadlocks for their Business School students. I know that Black people in general are pretty conservative, but as I would like to think that conservative does not equal dumb [in most cases]. Unfortunately, this might be such a case.
I’m sure there are plenty of people that think this is no big deal. They think that this is simply readying these students for the future realities of corporate citizenry in this country. They say that such styles are immature and make you look less intelligent and/or presentable to your potential employers. The story states Business School Dean Sid Credle’s (pictured here) motivation: “When we look at the top 75 African Americans in corporate America, we don’t see any of them with extreme hairdos.” Pardon me, but what is an extreme hairdo?!?!?!?! Who defines that? Black people? White people? Rich people? Poor people? Employers? I guess this guy would have thought that Madame C.J. Walker’s improvements to the metal straightening comb were bad because at that time “straight” hair was an extreme hairdo for black women.
You know where their notion of an extreme hairdo comes from? It is the result of staring at today through the lens of the supremacist, “Good Ol’ Boys” network that dominates american corporate culture. I am led to believe that because of the following statement from the article:
“Afros are OK but cornrows and flowing dreadlocks are not…’We don’t have problems with Afros,’ business Dean Sid Credle said Friday. ‘A nicely tapered Afro – that’s fine.'”
I’m not that old, but I’m sure there was a time not-so-long ago when the “nicely tapered Afro” was considered extreme. What is different from yesterday’s afro and today’s cornrow? Why is this formerly extreme hairdo now mainstream? Because white people think it’s cool. Period. Why do they think it’s cool? We will save that question for another day. Anyone who knows anything about hair knows that a caesar with a bad line up looks 1 billion times worse than newly braided cornrows. So why doesn’t the Hampton B School just take a look at EVERYBODY’S hair when they enter the building, and give them the go or no-go. It would go something like “If you don’t have waves homeboy, go get a brush before entering my school,” or “I’m sorry ma’am but you perm has not made your hair straight enough.” What’s their policy on facial hair I wonder? That wasn’t all that acceptable a short while a go in contemporary corporate america either, but I digress.
What kills me about these sorts of stupid policies are their selective nature. There have been lawsuits filed against other educational institutions for similar policies. I know that somebody in the Dean’s Office had to have known that there was some precedence with these sorts of policies. So either they disregarded that knowledge, or they felt that their policy was different. Maybe it was “different” because this is a policy at an HBCU. You know the theory: it’s not racist or culturally insensitive or prejudiced if it is done/said by a Black person or institution.
Maybe I wouldn’t have a problem with this policy if [it actually made sense, or if] the B School at Hampton took a multi-pronged approach to addressing the problem it is trying to “solve.” In addition to suggesting non-extreme hairstyles why not educate their corporate partners on what is and is not extreme and begin to change their ignorant perspective? I guess this can’t happen because the administration is too afraid of biting the hands that feed them.
That sounds familiar…Black folks not speaking up because they are afraid of being reprimanded, rejected, or punished…I think that that is an image we need to try to destroy and not repeat.