When I meet young women of color, it is, more than any other single question, the thing that they ask me about their futures is, how do I proceed in the world with my hair? So, I went natural like two years ago, I went through the whole kind of conversion. The weave, never thought I'd have one, but I had one, it was pretty long. Whatever. And you know, listen last night I had a little bout with the hair thing and I could've came here today a little twisted out. You wouldn't have probably liked it but it is a challenge. So you have to try and figure out how to manage through all of that. So I think it's a huge conversation I have with myself on a daily basis. Okay do you let these girls go? They're really not that defined but maybe you can just figure it out? And so I've gone to work, I've tested the curly, I've tested the straight, I twisted, I did whatever. The conversations take a long time when everyone ask me what did you do with your hair. [LAUGH]. You know, it's all a lot of work. You know, and I, you know you just want to go to work most days and just do your job. It takes up a lot of time to explain to everyone what you did so this is just a little bit easier. Although for me, at work, it's not that much easier at home to get this, so it is a challenge. I've had people ask me, "Do you wash your hair everyday?" Like if it looks different, you know, just the, seriously. Just the difference between straight or curly. People wanna, they do ask, what did you do to your hair? I've come back from vacation and couldn't get to the beauty parlor so it will look curly, and I've had people say, Oh, so that's what your hair really looks like? And so, I mean it, you know, I laugh [LAUGH] about it you know, but I really probably may have taken a lot more risks over the years if I felt like. I really didn't have to think about it. I have only been natural in the workforce. I have never, you know, not been natural, except I color my hair, in the interest of full disclosure [UNKNOWN] [LAUGH] cuz I'm pretty much heavily gray and it just doesn't work for me, yeah. But in any event I will say as someone who's only been natural in the workforce, and you know, I've worn locks, I've done twistouts, I've had a short natural. I completely agree with what you're saying. There is some effort. Again, the two times in the past 13 years I've been at American Express where I did a big change to my hair, I've [INAUDIBLE] it which I know sounds crazy and it's a lot of work but just to avoid the awkwardness of, on Monday morning when people start asking you those bizarre questions. And it is a pain, it takes a lot of effort, but I will say it all is worth it to me for two reasons; one because this is what I like to do, and two, more importantly, I cannot tell you how many people come up to me and say, Can I talk to you, cuz I'm going natural Yeah! Or I know you're natural, how do you do it, and it seems to work for you and I mean, this is going back when I was finishing law school and people told me, like,' You're never going to make it natural', right. It's part of being your authentic self. Mm-hm. And, and doing what's right for you, and whether that's natural, that's a wig, a weave, a whatever, just get comfortable and be you.
Within the last 24 hours, politician Maxine Waters and White House correspondent April Ryan were both publicly attacked.
First, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly mocked Waters’ appearance on his show, saying, “I didn’t hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig. If we have a picture of James, it’s the same wig.”
He later apologized for the wildly disrespectful comments while claiming that he has “respect” for Congresswoman Maxine Waters and only “made a jest about her hair which was dumb.”
A short time later, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer reprimanded Ryan for shaking her head while he spoke during a press conference.
Both incidents reminded Black women on Twitter of something that’s tough to forget — it’s hard as hell to be a Black women in the workplace, all of the time.
In response, Black women have begun sharing their stories about discrimination within the workplace on Twitter using the now trending hashtag #blackwomenatwork. Misourri based activist Brittany Packnett, who initiated the conversation online, told the Huffington Post that she wanted to “challenge non-Black people to stand with Black women not just when this happens on television, but in the cube right next to them.”
“I have deep an abiding respect for Congresswoman Waters and Ms. Ryan who are both trailblazers in their fields,” she continued. “They are to be respected, just like every other black woman who rises each day to contribute to this society in ways that are all-too-often taken for granted.”
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Whether it is overcoming racially motivated stereotypes, challenges with wearing our natural hair or simply being misunderstood or judged for being outspoken, smart, and often, in charge, the overwhelming responses shared used this hashtag definitely hit the nail on the head and serve as a reminder that this is still a shared experience among Black women.