Thursday, August 23, 2012

Hampton University business school bans locs and cornrows


Photo courtesy Kura Magazine
I was close to cutting my locs when I got the news. Oh, for those who don’t know, I don’t call them dreadlocks.  I’m told they’re called dreadlock because when white people saw them they called them “dreadful locks”.  After 9 years, I was prepared to chop them off to begin a new journey.
That was before I got the news that Hampton University has imposed a ban on business students wearing locs and cornrows. It’s safe to conclude that the folks at Hampton consider them dreadful.  Administrators at the business school claim those hairdos aren’t appropriate for the world of business.  What better way to prepare students for a competitive business world than by forcing them to chop off those afrocentric, too radical for the white world manes?
“When we look at the top 75 African Americans in corporate America, we don’t see any of them with extreme hairdos,” Sid Credie, dean of the business school says.  The fact that he calls locs and cornrows extreme is enough to force me off the sideline into a kick your butt position.  The fact that the ban comes from Hampton speaks to a problem deeper than how a person wears their hair. 
Black folks have a problem with embracing the fact that we will never be white.
The black community’s fascination with hair, and the ridiculous thoughts about how we, the black people of America, choose to style our hair, has become the measure used to define legitimate movement toward ridding oneself of the last strand that says we are different.  Folks get embarrassed when they see a black person accepting all of that history and culture connected with that permanent tan.
So, it’s not enough for a person to bring grace, intelligence and substance to the table.  You have to look good when representing black folks.  Maybe that’s why so many people had their panties up their back crack when Gabby Douglas won Olympic Gold with messed up hair.  People wanted to know how her mama failed to check that mess before letting her represent the rest of black America.
Hair is a reminder that a black person can’t make it in the “real world” by being overly black.  What Credie and the administration at Hampton assert is an unspoken expectation that their policy confirms – stop being black.  Get rid of that nasty, dreadful hair and act white.  The top 75 black folks in the world of business don’t look like that, so play by the rules son.  Get with the program girlfriend.
I really can’t blame Hampton for telling the truth. Shucks, one has to play by the rules if they want to make it in the real world.  Most people have to conform to the culture that comes with getting that fat paycheck.  I respect Hampton for being bold enough to protect those who want a job with a Fortune 500 company.  I get it, but dang it hurts when a historically black college informs the world that being black is no longer an option.
I hear you screaming at me now.  Go ahead and tell me it’s just hair dude.  Cut the darn locs and get with the program.  That may apply with those who approach hair as hair.  If it’s a hairstyle chosen to embrace thug life or to morph into Little Wayne, cut the locs and get a low cut fade to go with the blue suit, white shirt and red tie.  Play the power game.  Feel me?
But folks like me do it for other reasons.  The truth is I get pissy when I see a young dude wearing locs with no clue about the history behind it all.  It makes me want to take scissors and chop them after a long lecture about stop making me look bad by pretending to be like me.  It makes it harder for those who are making a point beyond looking cool and radical.  It’s not extreme; it’s a way of life.
Hampton had to do it, because if Duke, UNC or another school with a majority white crowd had ruled the same, black folks from Los Angeles to the motherland would be holding signs while screaming “we shall overcome, someday.”  We would call it racist.  Russ Phar, Tom Joyner and the crew and Al Sharpton would all be camped outside the dean’s office demanding a change in policy. 
A national debate would take place about legitimate black expression.  We would revisit Don Imus and his “nappy haired-hoes” comment from 2007.  Discussions would be had about changing the way people think about black hair styles.  None of that will happen because Hampton has ruled based on an opinion that is rampant within the black community.
If it ain’t white, it ain’t right.  Get rid of those extreme hairdos if you want to make it in the “real world”
At least there’s a place in the business world for a man with thick lips.

64 comments:

  1. Hamilton's B School is not in the business of social engineering, it's in the business of positioning its graduates to succeed in a business career.

    NC Central is educating some of its students in appropriate dress code and grooming too. Is that racial?

    Think for a moment about a hiring authority, whose mission it is to find people who will help make him or her and the company successful. One interviewee appears dressed in a business suit and is well groomed, and the other, with equal skills, comes in jeans and if male, hair to his shoulders, or braided. "Who would better represent the company?" is the question the hiring authority might ask. You know the answer.

    We who have been fortunate enough to be able to hire people, are not looking for social justice, we are looking for people who will help us succeed. A B School had better be teaching students how to provide that impression. If I was an administrator in a business school I'd be looking to admit students who were on a mission to learn how to succeed, not on a mission to send a message.

    There are other schools for that.



    AJW

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    1. I remember my trip to HAMPTON as a high school junior as part of a tour of all the HBCUs on the east coast from PA to FL. I still recall the feeling I got when visiting it's campus. It was similar to the feeling I would get when I was sitting in the front pew of The First Baptist Church as a little girl with my grandma and rest of the deaconess board. Sit up straight, you must wear pantyhose, cross your legs at the ankle, and your skirt should hit no higher than your knee. Being expected to spout bible verses and black history at any given time. I was raised by a generation of Black people who were obsessed with Black excellence which was often right in line with total assimilation. There was absolutely no room for error because your sentiments, remarks,values, and most importantly your ACTIONS were a direct reflection of every Black person in America. I remember being given the rundown about the strict dress code, prompt schedule, etc and I was scared to death. It seemed to me that Hampton held the same belief as my grandparents that to be Black and successful in America one must be twice as good overly congenial and let everyone you know that you're not one of THOSE Black people.

      In that same church at eleven or twelve years old I was asked "Why don't you have a perm yet?!" As if chemically processing my hair was the last step in my rites of passage to becoming an upstanding Black woman. I was confused and rightly so. My mother whose hair was silky and straight often would adore me and my sister for our fluffy tresses saying "I wish I could get my hair like that." I was taught that my hair texture, skin tone, and features were beautiful. Little did I know that my hair had been a point of contention between my mother and grandma since I sprouted my baby puff. She couldn't wait to get her hands on this nappy head.

      I have worn my hair straight, cropped, in braids, weaved and ultimately in locs which I often call my crown of glory. Through my hair journey my appearance has certainly changed. Although, my level of education, social skills, confidence, communication, experience, network and professionalism did not suddenly diminish because my hair reverted back to its natural texture. I think it is high time for Black people to realize that these issues with our hair are ours alone. Empires have been built on the Black hair care industry for what I consider an identity crises. Is it more "extreme" for me to wear my hair as it naturally twists and coils from my scalp or to submit myself to chemicals that can cause permanent bodily harm, pulling, burning, sewing, not to mention wearing THE HAIR OF ANOTHER WOMAN/CHILD on top of my head?!?

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    2. HAVE YOU LOST YOUR MIND? THIS IS JUST ANOTHER PLOY TO DEFINE WHAT SUCCESS SHOULD LOOK LIKE. THE LOCS DO NOT MAKE ONE PERSON LESS ABLE TO PERFORM. THE BRAIN UNDERNEATH THE LOCS WORKS JUST AS WELL, IF NOT BETTER, THAN A SCALP COVERED WITH BLOND HAIR, OR STRAIGHT HAIR. YOU WHITE PEOPLE BELIEVE YOU OWN AND DEFINE EVERYTHING, AND ULTIMATELY, THIS IGNORANCE WILL CAUSE YOUR OWN DOWNFALL. STOP SCREAMING AT THE WORLD TO NOTICE YOU, BECAUSE WE DO, AND NOTMANY PEOPLE LIKE WHAT THEY'RE LOOKIN' AT!

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    3. The question was not in the dress, it was in the hair on the person's head. Who would you like to have working at your company a dumb blond, very well tanned without a clue of business or a well dressed and professionally attired africian american woman with locs? The question is of the 75 professional, what is the age range and how did they get started in business.

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    4. To the first anonymous,

      Sir or Mame, I question your analogy. Why does person B in your hypothetical situation have to have both an "extreme" hair style and be inadequately dressed? What about "Locks", braids, or afros is synonymous with improper attire? If someone has a very pedestrian hairstyle and walks into an interview inappropriately dressed, they too will be denied employment. You came to a conclusion based on the wrong premise. Being proud of the texture of your hair, being confident in your color, and being secure with who you are as a person, is far more beneficial to your success than a hair style choice. Those who have been brow-beaten into a theoretical mold they will never fit struggle mightily to find security, happiness, and contentment solely because they are not being true to themselves. If I do not get the job because of my natural, undyed, well manicured, well groomed, non chemical laden hairstyle, then maybe that particular job was not for me to begin with.

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    5. Just as we as a people come in all different shades and sizes, we should not be limited by our personal preference of hair styles. How we wear our hair is one of the many facets that make us so versitile. We've been forced to look down upon our selves for what makes us different. We were told for years that our "big" lips were ugly, that is until botox shots became popular. We are the race that everyone chooses to belittle and make fun of. We have to hold on to what makes us who we are...a diverse group that has overcome many obstacles. We must embrace our heritage and teach our children how truly rich, beautiful, and dynamic we are as a people. In the Bible, Sampson was destroyed when his locs were cut. His strength was in his hair and that is a battle we're still fighting. Change only occurs when we refuse to be silenced!

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    6. Just one more reason why you/me/us need to create our own jobs locx on a women beautiful, they shold ban perms how the hell can you tell someone to change how there hair grows...

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    7. A person with locs can wear a business suit too and look professional. Male or female can have cornrow braids or twisted natural and still work in a business environment. Many successful brilliant black women have natural hair, some are even from Africa. Hair does not define the way you behave. A person can have low cut hair wearing an Armani suit and not have any class whatsoever business or otherwise. We need to know how to look deeper and see the mind and a person's abilities.

      I love to see well groom ethnic looks, wonderful diversity and individuality in a business environment. Hampton needs to change that policy and antiquated way of thinking. Go visit some of the young billion dollar corporations like Google, Facebook and several other companies and you would throw all those antiquated rules out the window except good honest, hard, intelligent dedicated workers.

      Hampton go order some new business books. Some of us have always been our worst enemies. Our people were made to feel inferior about everything that we have that is also very beautiful. I am so happy that the young people are going back to natural hair. We need to stop killing ourselves with chemicals and messing up our beautiful God given hair and skin color. We should embrace who we are with pride. Hair does not define who we are – we are a beautiful group of people with all types of hair and hair styles – from braids and locs to straight and curly. Just be the best that You can be in the world - in and out of the office.

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    8. Wowwww! As a black male with an 12 year old daughter, it pisses me off that I have to tell her to keep getting a relaxer until all of your naturally beautiful hair is burned to the scalp. She received her first relaxer at five years old. It hurt me to see those chemicals in her hair, but her mom said this is what society expects. Crazy thing is my daughters mom has been growing her locs for 2 years now. My sister has been growing locs for 15 years and my girlfriend who is a recent graduate of Howard University has been growing her locs for over 10 years. And for the record, my girlfriend has her doctorate degree in education. The point I am trying to make is what do I tell my daughter about her hair? I do know that I will tell her not to attend Hampton University....

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    9. The issues at hand is society never expected black folks to make it as a succesful and educated race. This post is not targeted at the whole of society rather the large majority that focuses on putting people in boxes and unable to identify the different qualities in individuals. We black folks are being told "you've been through so much" or "you're so beutiful" these things are often said in hopes to minimize the black individual while attempting to inforce yet another limitation. The natural hair is not accepted and makes me sad to see such a regression in the thought process of so many individuals. The black community poses a threat and are yet again being forced into unacceptable expectation and that's is still racism in my book...just saying.

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  2. Hampton? Howard? And then Hamilton? (Is there such an HBCU?) Get it straight (no pun intended). This article introduces the term "Howard" in one paragraph even though the title says "Hampton." All our schools are not alike. Get it right. Then the one response refers to "Hamilton." What is that?

    The main concern, however, is that just like in the names, we are NOT all alike; we have varying belief systems, agendas, and goals that should be respected. I think it is fine for all business schools to teach appropriate dress that is most successful for corporate selection; however, to require that students dress or look a certain way in order to study in a particular program is going "over the top." This should be considered an abridgement of student and even human rights. Everyone who works toward a business degree may not be aspiring for the corporate world. There may be some who plan to go into entrepreneurship on their own. They deserve a right to be free to receive a degree from a qualified institution of higher learning to be able to do that. I feel sure that no one would require that of any Orthodox Jewish student, Sikh or other tradition-clad individual if the opportunity presented itself. Some exception would have to be made.

    Although I am not a deep fan of the dred look, although I do admire the neatest type, I still cannot accept a society that limits the freedom of self-expression in personal appearance, particularly when done from a cultural or religious perspective. Each individual should have the opportunity to decide for him or herself what is best for his or her occupational goals. That is only right. So I could not uphold the college's requirement to ban specific hair styles.

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  3. If a woman or man is a genius in business ,whether they have locs or not is irrelevant. If you want to argue that it is NOT racial, you must admit that it is quite superficial. It seems that the business school is the one who is sending the message. The message is:
    - if u want to make money to survive u better look how the world wants u to look.

    I don't like that people believe that they can tell others what is appropriate or professional. If u have locs, these type of policies hold your career and SURVIVAL hostage .........unless you conform ofcourse.

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  4. MLeeza, Howard is never mentioned in the blog, but comments have been made regarding Howard and other HBCU's.

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    1. There is a reference to Howard ..."Hair is a reminder that a black person can’t make it in the “real world” by being overly black. What Credie and the administration at Howard ..."

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    2. @Anonymous, The reference was Hampton and not Howard(Real HU).

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  5. Actually Howard is mentioned in the 7th paragraph..."What Credie and the administration at Howard assert is an unspoken expectation that their policy confirms – stop being black. Get rid of that nasty, dreadful hair and act white."

    I don't believe white people think about our hair as much as we do. If you had an interview with a white and a black human resource director, the white one would take note that you are black while the black one would take note that you are black AND take note of your hair style...sad but true

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  6. Hair is a reminder that a black person can’t make it in the “real world” by being overly black. What Credie and the administration at Howard assert is an unspoken expectation that their policy confirms – stop being black. Get rid of that nasty, dreadful hair and act white. The top 75 black folks in the world of business don’t look like that, so play by the rules son. Get with the program girlfriend.

    ^^^
    Copy and pasted for your review. Howard is mentioned in the blog.

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    1. You are correct. I fixed the mistake. Sorry for the typo

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  7. Uh, Check That Mess?
    Dreadful comment.

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  8. I hear a lot of old unevolved ideals on both sides of the argument.I think the first thing we have to do is put the race card down for just a moment. I am a 30 year old entrepreneur with locs. I should say that I am an in the artist and business end of the business. Since music is an arts based industry which does allow more room for individual expression. Now a lot of the people in the industry are ex-musicians and thus have tattoos, piercings, extreme hair cuts, and all other forms of body modifications and art. These were the kids that were told that they would never find a job looking and dressing they way they do, but here they are.
    Now granted this is the music industry, but body art is starting to show up all over the place. The fact is that old generations die and new ones take over. Certain things may be taboo now but if you open your eyes you can already start to see the tide changing. I feel like the old generation has no right or say to the future the new generation. Teach them well and then allow them to rise above all the chains that hold you down.
    I have a slight gripe with the comment made stating that people who don't understand the tradition of locs should be lectured and have them cut. I get that it was kind of an expression rather than something you would actually do (I hope). My question is why is someone else' expression only valid if they assign the meaning you believe that expression should carry? How can you expect people to rise above the past if you keep chaining them to it? I am not an Afrocentric person. I am marrying a black woman who wears her hair natural but that is the least of the reasons why she is so wonderful. Don't think for a moment that I don't respect my elders and appreciate all the things the have fought to give us. I am sorry that they had to struggle. My struggles are different. I have to ignore struggles of the past so that i don't manifest them in my future. Thank you elders, now get out of the way.

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    1. Thank you Aaron for expressing my initial thoughts when I read the post. How hypocritical to have disdain for the university's new policy while suggesting that the writer somehow has some right to have an opinion on the validity of an individual's reasonings for their own hair choice.

      As someone else stated above, it is black people that have a problem with black folks hair. As usual, projecting our own insecurities on others does nothing to move us forward to deal with much more pressing issues in our community.

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    2. You hit it on the nail with your comment Aaron. Yes, it is incredibly hypocritical of me to judge those who loc their hair while failing to abide by my expectation. It was my personal confession to reflect how deep this hair thing goes. There is a bias when it comes to those who decide to go natural (both men and women) that lends to a bit of arrogance. My point was to expose how wrong that is. Glad you called me on it. I was hoping someone would.

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  9. Black People named them "Dread Locks", not White people!! Get your history and facts straight:-) the first ime I saw a Rasta Man was 1974 in in Ochos Rios Jamaica....the cab driver explained their history to me.......they (dreadlocks) looked dreadful and they were dreadful because they were not washed or oiled, and was down right dirty and nasty looking as I recall. Some people wash and oil and keep their hair healthy....then you have the others who don't........THAT looks dreadful and IS DREADFUL!!!!

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    1. The book "Dreads" tells the history of dreadlocks dating back over 2,000 years. The name "dreadlock" was given by slave traders when the witnessed slaves from Africa come off the ships with uncombed (locked) hair. This was long before the beginning of the Rastafarian movement in Jamaica which began with Haile Selassie in the 1930s. The Rastafari gave new meaning to dreadlocks at that time

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    2. Go here if you are interested in the book "Dreads" http://www.amazon.com/Dreads-Francesco-Mastalia/dp/157965150X

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    3. Dont argue with people that have no understanding about a global world view. The US is so backwards when it comes to what is approprite or not. See the Chinese does not care ehat your hair look like, Chileans dont care. My point is it depends on the type of industry you go into. Globally they want to know you understand your craft and your going to make money. For the record, I am a HR person folk will judge you about everything when your a black person. I am not saying you cant make it but it is STILL racist out there people. Be yourself because people respect you when you are yourself! Keep the locks go to another school. Shame on Hampton.

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  10. You may want to consider this. Being hired in the private sector means your employer had bet that you will succeed. How big a bet? Well, over the course of the first half year you'll probably have used up a person month of your supervisor's time (and therefore salary) and six months of your own, and for most professional positions that probably for a good hire means maybe 4 months of productivity.

    That's the bet. If the new hire doesn't work out that money is lost, and so is opportunity for the employer.

    Now, suppose for a moment you're the person making the hiring decision. I would submit in the real world you'd use every clue you could concerning a prospect's likelihood of success -- BFOQ's (Bona Fide Occupational Qualifications) for sure and everything else that may serve to differentiate among the applicants.

    The question to ask yourself as a prospective employee is how do you want to present yourself? First impressions matter, more than we may want to admit. Are you going to be defined and remembered because of an extreme hair style? It may work for some jobs, probably not for others. Let me say it differently. If I was coaching someone on how to succeed on an interview and my subject was wearing an extreme hair style, UNLESS I KNEW THE HIRING AUTHORITY WOULD BE FAVORABLY IMPRESSED BY THAT, I would advise moderation.

    It's up to you. If you want to cause a social change you may want to position yourself so your chances of getting a good position first are high. If you don't? My candidate, who may be no more competent than you, will probably walk away with the offer more often than you do.

    It's a roll of the dice, but the dice are loaded. Be sure you're betting on the side of the loaded dice. How big an advantage to you want to give the other candidates?

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    1. Point well taken! So, could a school that's not an HBCU get away with this policy?

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    2. People go to colleges for different reasons but if you're going to a business school, you have a right to expect that school is going to groom you to succeed in business. If it isn't you should get your money back, HBCU or not.

      I can't make it more clear than this: in many circumstances, (but of course not all) other candidates who are interviewing for a job that requires an MBA would rejoice if they saw someone interviewing for the same position with locs to his shoulders or his blond hair in a long pony tail, or in ratty clothes if the job was related to being part of the public face of the company.

      Here's a real world consideration. There's lots of competition for jobs, and a hiring authority or such a person's assistant is looking for reasons NOT to interview a candidate. A resume with typos will not get you in the door. An extreme appearance may not get you past the HR's office, and he (or she) is NOT the decision maker on who to hire, but does screening to save the decision maker time.

      You can say it's not right every minute until next year, but if you make it easy to be rejected as a serious candidate you're saving the hiring authority time.

      Again, this is from the point of view of the employer. There are two mistakes one can make in hiring. The first mistake is to reject someone who can do the job. The second is to hire someone who can't. Someone with the authority to make a hiring decision is willing to make a lot of mistakes of the first kind in order to avoid making one of the second kind. Don't make it too easy for the decision maker to make a mistake of the first kind with you.

      I've described aspects of my real world. Yours may be different.

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    3. Anyone who looks at a beautiful head of cornrows and sees something negative is not someone I would want to work for. Period. What you suggest is that black men and women buckle down and start up a healthy neurosis (conflict between interior and exterior self) in order to make hiring easier for someone who has a perception problem. I think that that is terrible advice.

      And I certainly don't think that any organization that puts itself forward as a place of education should be encouraging negative stereotyping. Period.

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  11. My apologizes for the reference to Howard in the blog. It was a typo that has been corrected. Sorry for the confusion.

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  12. greetings,
    many years there was a lawsuit with Hyatt Hotels in the Washington Dc area connected to the use of cornrows as a hairstyle. The person's name was Cheryl Tatum. This was when Natural Hairstyles had just made a breakthrough in this city almost 30 years ago. Review lawsuits because that person did win and was even on National Television in the Oprah show and other talk shows. is interesting how it feels like we are going backwards.

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  13. I am a proud graduate of Hampton's B-School.My first job was in the financial sector on Wall Street; I have been an Executive at a Brooklyn, NY based non-profit social services agency; presently,I am an attorney at one of NJ's largest law firms. Clarification: the "no dreadlocks and cornrows" rule is applied to the males in the program…It is a gross mischaracterization of HU's policy to state that it sends the message that "a black person can’t make it in the “real world” by being overly black" or that one has to "stop being black" to be successful in Corporate America.This view is myopic and potentially insulting as it suggests that one’s “blackness” is defined by a hairstyle.The policy is part of a comprehensive educational approach designed to prepare business students for entre into the Corporate world. This is done based on the prevailing standards in that arena- standards that are rooted in Anglo-Saxon ideals/traditions. The reality is there is a uniform/dress code that persist in Corporate America and that standard is not very accepting of extremes- including locks and cornrows; but before we completely racialize this issue, take note that so-called extremes hairstyles are not the norm across the board, as you will not see mainstream TV personalities, CEOs, etc. of any race/ethnicity with "extreme" hairstyles (when was the last time you saw a white male news anchor with some "punk rocker" hairdo or a long mane like hairstyle like a biker or grunge artist?).Gaining entre into Corporate America is similar to joining the armed forces in that regardless of one's race/ethnicity, if you choose to be in that arena you will have to abide by the established standards of dress and grooming (everyone has to cut their hair down in the armed forces, not just black people).Another way of looking at it is: getting a job- especially one's first job- in Corporate America is like auditioning for a particular role; if you want the role, then you have to look, dress & act the part. Ultimately, that's what being in Corporate America is- a role one plays for 8-10 hours a day/5 days a week.In a perfect world hairstyle wouldn't matter, but that's not the world we live in. Especially in the business world, it's about the bottom line. If one's identity as black person is so inextricably linked to wearing a certain "ethnic hairstyle" then that person should not be looking to gain entre into Corporate America where the standards and rules are based on Anglo-Saxon ideals and traditions, often to the exclusion of other ethnic norms. Finally, the real critique should not be of the HU's policy. The real question is why haven't HBCUs, black churches, i.e., Black America produced enough blacks who have enough successful businesses so that brothers and sisters graduating from college would not have to depend exclusively on "the white establishment" for viable employment? If there was a critical mass of successful black owned business hiring college graduates then we could create new standards/rules or we could dictate that the standards/rules be more inclusive. Thus, the challenge is for those with a problem with the current standards to create equal or better alternatives for new college grads.If black companies that didn't have an aversion to "extreme hairstyles" were interviewing & hiring Hampton grads, then the B-School policy would reflect that reality. Until then, Hampton is doing what it must to prepare those who choose to "play the corporate role" for that role based on the prevailing standards.

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    1. Excellent!!!! I could not have said it better!

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  14. I say don't go to Hampton University and find another institution that shows respect for black people's diversity. They are assimilationist in Hampton likened to the house negro. The type of business that they are teaching is an attempt to copy the white standard. Too bad you can't really change your skin color which is also an extreme when it is dark in the standard white business world. Extreme hairstyle...really? They are just one example of a lost people at that particular school. As a people who are healing from slavery and discrimination and plain old terrorism we cannot support such ways of thinking or we will remain mentally enslaved. How about making a course that speaks on how you can be true to yourself and values without hiding and still being successful. How about building the future leaders of the world.
    As white people read this they are laughing or shaking their heads. I would never send my children or students to this school just because of that policy. They can keep that.

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    1. Your disguest/frustration w/Hampton's B-School policy is misplaced toward the university. The policy reflects the reality of the standards that persist in Corporate America. It is not Hampton that doesn't respect our diversity, it is the corporate world that largely does not accept or embrace our diversity. The Hampton B-School policy is simply a response to that reality. Students in the MBA program are paying/borrowing a lot of money and therefore, cannot afford- literally & figuratively- to be placed at an unnecessary disadvantage when attempting to land their first job in Corporate America. If you have a problem it is with the mainstream that created and maintains certain standards/preferences, not with an institution that is real & honest enough to prepare its MBA students for the realities they will encounter when trying to enter the corporate world.

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  15. Disclaimer: I am a proud graduate of Hampton's B-School. My first job was in the financial sector on Wall Street; I have been an Executive at a Brooklyn, NY based non-profit social services agency; presently, I am an attorney at one of NJ's largest law firms…It is a gross mischaracterization of HU's policy to state that it sends the message that "a black person can’t make it in the “real world” by being overly black"or that one has to "stop being black" to be successful in Corporate America. This view is myopic and potentially insulting as it suggests that one’s level of “blackness” is defined by wearing or not wearing a particular hairstyle. Nonetheless, HU’s B-School policy is part of a comprehensive educational approach designed to afford its students the best chance at gaining entre into the Corporate world. This is done based on the prevailing standards, standards that are rooted in Anglo-Saxon ideals/traditions. The reality is there is a uniform/dress code that persist in Corporate America that is not very accepting of extremes- including but not limited to locks/cornrows; but before completely racializing this issue, take note that so-called “extreme hairstyles” are excluded across the board, as you will not see mainstream TV personalities, CEOs, etc. of any race/ethnicity with "extreme hairstyles”(you will not see a white male news anchor, Fortune 500 executive, etc. with a "punk rocker" hairdo or a long mane-like hairstyle like a biker or grunge artist). Entering Corporate America is similar to joining the armed forces in that regardless of one's race/ethnicity, ifyou choose to be in that arena you will have to abide by the established standards of dress and grooming (all men must maintain a simple, “neat” hairstyle in the armed forces, not just blacks). Getting one’s first job in the corporate world is perhaps best viewed like auditioning for a particular role; if you want the role, then you have to look, dress & act the part. Ultimately, that's what being in Corporate America is-playing a role for 8-12 hours a day (or more). In a perfect world hairstyle wouldn't matter, but that's not the world we live in. Especially in the business world, it's about the bottom line. If one's identity as a black person is so inextricably linked to wearing a certain "ethnic hairstyle" then perhaps one should not be looking to gain entre into Corporate America where the standards and rules are based on Anglo-Saxon ideals and traditions,often to the exclusion of other ethnic norms. There are other pathways to success that do not require “compromising one’s blackness,” to the extent that one believes his/her blackness is linked to a particular hairstyle. Finally, the real critique should not be of the HU B-School policy. The deeper more consequential question is why haven't HBCUs, black churches, etc. i.e., Black America as a whole produced enough blacks who have developed enough successful businesses so that brothers and sisters graduating from college would not have to depend exclusively on "the white establishment" for viable employment? If there was a critical mass of successful black owned business interviewing and hiring college graduates then we could create new standards/rules and/or we could dictate that the prevailing standards be more inclusive. Thus, the challenge is for those who have a problem with the current standards to create equal or better alternatives for young brothers and sisters. If black-owned companies (that presumably would not regard locks/cornrows as "extreme hairstyles") were interviewing & hiring Hampton grads, then HU’s B-School policy would reflect that reality. Until then, Hampton is doing what it must to prepare those who choose to "play the corporate role" for that role based on the prevailing standards.

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    1. Hmmmm...dredlocks....punk rocker. That's apples &....hmmm...red hot chili peppers. I do however like the finale, & my 1st thought is that blacks simply don't support black own biz enough.

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  16. This is exactly why students and young professionals should choose there schools wisely. All of these universities are not the same. You have choices as a black professional. You can choose to go to Hampton b-school and be told to limit you self expression or you can choose Howard b-school and be praised for your differences. Take what you learn from these programs and become an entrepreneur. Make changes that allow any young black person to be who they choose. We are a great people by nature and no perm, dreadlock, or cornrow is going to change that.

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    1. Simply choose the school and program that meets your objectives. Is it training for a career? If so a B school with a good placement record for its graduates is the right choice, placement successes suggest its training is spot on. Most know how many offers on average a graduate got. For that matter, that would be a good question to ask no matter what career path you're considering.

      I was happy to see NCCU work at making its students present themselves better. Others may feel it infringes on the students' right of self expression. If someone's 'self expression' places that person at a disadvantage it reflects most directly on the individual and secondarily on the institution he came from.

      Loc is a form of self expression. If extremely done IN THE EYES OF THE HIRING AUTHORITY it places that person at a disadvantage. It's as simple as that.

      Look, at least for me a major purpose of going on a job interview was to get an offer so that I got to make a yes or no decision and with an offer in hand it opened the door to ask other questions about the opportunity.

      Others may have a different objective, but if your objective is to have a position offered to you don't shoot yourself in the foot by offering a self image inconsistent with that of the target company.

      It's not about being black or white, but about demonstrating you'd be a good fit. the company in general is NOT going to bend to your whims unless you're exceptional (in the eyes of the decision maker).



      If you choose to present yourself differently you're placing yourself at a disadvantage. If your 'presentation' is that important to you you'll have to find a company that is in sync with your values.

      Good luck in any event.

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  17. What if a student does not want to go to Corporate America? Not everyone is trying to get into a cubicle and work 9 to 5. There are some who may want the degree and be their own boss. It is a small majority but they are in college also. Grad student could be there to get it and start their own business or even teach at the collegiate level. Same with an undergrad.

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  18. I find this whole discussion about the "real world" so freaking disgusting and uninformed. First of all, WE are the ones who have all those damn hangups about OUR hair, white people don't give a shit! Seriously take a poll and ask them, how many of them really care about how a person wears their hair in their hiring process, as long as it's clean and neat. This is not about jobs, its about self-loathing. Secondly, where do these uppity negroes get off classifying what comes from us naturally as somehow inferior? I guess they would rather these women perm their hair till it falls out and they have permanent scarring all over their scalps. It's sickening and these people need real psychological help.

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    1. Love it...self-loathing....love it....uppity negs...love it...perms...love it love it love it!

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  19. The writer lost me (for real). To reason that "Hampton had to do it" is the exact opposite of good sense. Black Colleges should be thee last to even think about outlawing afro-centric hairstyles. Hampton just opened the door for other races to reject afro-centric style.

    And Gabby Douglass' hair was fine...do you know why? Answer - Well, the only opinion that really mattered was that of the judges, & they don't quibble over trivial non-essentials. So Gabby won.

    Also, to think everyone wearing locks needs a history lesson is arrogant, & your personal preferences are a non-factor when it comes to hairstyles. The so-called "history" lesson always leads to some rubbish about how the locking of hair can transform a person.

    Transformed into what? ...for what? I'll just let God transform me into the image of Jesus, & wear my hair however I like. WORD

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  20. It is SAD to see progress moving backward.there is no "mistake" with my hair. It is neither dreadful or nappy or unkept. It is curly and strong and unique and beautiful just like every other texture of hair. Hampton will soon see a letter from the ACLU, i'm almost certain.

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  21. How much is The Corporation paying you to be their shill?

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  22. Not sure why this is even a disscusion! With this type of idiocracy, HBCU's will soon be irrelevant so this may soon be irrelevant. Let's stop the race card..there is a reason its called corporate "America" and not white or black America. Perhaps if we stopped following hip hop as a religion then maybe we could stop making such superficial discussions like this relevant. Grow up, its the American way!

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  23. The "leadership" at most HBCUs has always had a problem with the thinking, attitude and dress of the students. The students of the civil rights era were shunned by admin because they were active in the streets against second class citizenship. Today HBCU students who wear their hair in it's natural state are unemcumbered with the sense of self hatred related to African hair. To ban locs and fros is to say very loudly that the Hampton SOB (school of business) still believe in the myth of African inferiority and the superiority of the European Business world. Like the brother said, "elders, we love you but get out of the way!". HAPPY 2BNAPPY

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  24. I'm hearing echoes of conversations with a white female friend who had a successful corporate career and described her morning routine as "putting on the uniform" and "putting on my game face." Without attempting to make any comment on Hampton's rigid posture, since I'm an outsider, I can only say that white women have been recasting themselves for the corporate game for a long time. It seems like anyone perceived as "from the outside" has to do this ... and then will become an outsider in both the new world and their original group.

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  25. To all of you "Afrocentric" Christians and Muslims, you all are hypocrites. Christianity and Islam were forced on blacks by white settlers from Northern Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. My ancestors had their own religions before they were sold to the white man in slavery, they had their own Gods and faiths that have since been destroyed and forgotten.

    You eat up the white man's religion just like he wants you to. He destroyed your ancestors myths and legends, stories, and religions. And they gave us their white saviour. Bullshit.

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  26. I'm going to keep this simple. As an entrepreneur and someone close to employment into a federal agency the context in which this rule was presented is careless and offensive to those who do have the subjective 'extreme hairdo.' I guarantee you as someone who has my foot in the entertainment industry and in the corporate world, the common denominator has always been presentation. Generally, companies have an autonomous stance on what they view as professional dress and grooming. Rules and guidelines on the subject differ from one to the next.

    I say if they are going to enforce such a rule at this institution then they need to make it clear that this is none more than a generalized stance on successful access into the corporate world as a whole, not just black-owned and operated businesses. There are organizations that look for all-around professionalism in prospects in comparison to noticing a certain hairdo. Corn-rows, box braids, twists, locs, afros have been worn by many a professional and entrepreneur (in certain industries) throughout the course of history. Have many others played it 'safe' to avoid a setback? yes but we would be fools to deny the successes of those who 'didn't.'

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  27. Coming from a West Indian family that has both Christians and Rastafarians I find their ban disrespectful and insulting. There are people who wear locs for religious purposes, in addition I myself wear Braids because I decided to embrace natural black hair. It is disheartening when your own black people lose sight of what's important, dictating that I perm my hair that's a problem. Black people seem to be more disturbed by black ppl who wear their actual hair i.e the actress from the Help, big uproar because she didn't have a horses tail on her head. I wish my people would stop trying to fit into white Americas view of what's beautiful and acceptable. The message I'm getting from a black college is if it ain't white it ain't right. I'm sorry but I love the skin I'm in and I love my black hair.

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  28. As a former banking professional with locks, a graduate of banks leadership development program, I have had conversations regarding my hair being a potential obstacle to my career advancement. I respectfully declined to cut my hair and shifted the conversation to my performance and what I brought to the table. I received multiples promotions and even sat on round table conferences with senior executives without feeling that my hairstyle was an issue. I must say there is much more to professional presence than an individual’s hairstyle. Diversity is not only about having someone of a difference race or ethnicity on your team, but leveraging all aspects of who they are to the advantage of the organization. I believe the University should focus on professional presence as a whole rather than just the issue of hair style. Whether we have locks or not, the potential for discrimination will always be there. The University needs to make this clear to their students and allow them to make their own decisions about issue like hairstyle. The University approach is completely misguided. By the way, doesn’t Ben Bernanke have facial hair? I was once told that could be an obstacle to advancement as well.

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    1. You may be missing an important point. First you have to GET the job. Moreover, this is NOT a "One size fits all" deal. May I suggest it's rarely an ADVANTAGE to present yourself as having a different appearance or agenda than other candidates for a job. If you happen on such a circumstance, great! If you don't, your light has to shine a bit brighter than that of some one else competing the same job. It's up to you to accept someone's coaching and suggestions as to what's best, but let me say someone who is concerned about the whole first impression issue may have an advantage.

      B Schools what their graduates to succeed: it reflects well on the graduate and the school when they do. A student can follow the school's advice, or not. The market will decide if the advice matters.

      Once one has a resume that can cite accomplishments it's an easier sell, but if I were a hiring authority considering freshly minted MBA's I may let something like apparent social agenda affect my decision making. As I mentioned elsewhere,a wrong hire is an expensive mistake, and I'd rather reject a qualified one than hire someone who can't do the job. The honest fact is, I never had a position to fill that would be satisfied with a fresh MBA, so I am not arguing from a position of strength. I have, however, hired people holding that ticket with some years of experience, and to the best of my memory at least candidates I saw presented a professional appearance. I don't remember locs (dreaded or not) being an issue.

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  29. Like it or not, companies are not hiring ANYONE with a social agenda. They only hire ambitious people with a business agenda. So, if you love your locks, braids, tatts, piercings, etc..., establish your own business and run it any way you like. The world wont change for you, you have to make the change to get what they have that you want.

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  30. Amazing post.. i can study so many things from this post & your comments.. Thanks for sharing.

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  31. You have an amazing blog! More power to you!

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  32. To compete internationally with our oppressor, or to be acknowledged universally by our family¿

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  33. As though there are not enough comments on this. I am appalled and insulted. It is "we" who keep oppressing ourselves! I am a sister with locs, who made a conscious decision to chop my perm in college in 2000--12 years ago! I started off in corporate america successfully with a low fro, and later locs. I love my hair and will NEVER perm my hair again. I had a sad dialogue with a sister who has, like Hampton U, internalized the perceived racism towards black hair. It is her lack of confidence in her natural beauty that most saddens me. Commercialism and pop culture continues to deny true black beauty in all its ranges, and we continue to let ourselves be stifled. It is a falsehood that employers denigrate natural hair. It is absolutely unfounded. White people (if that's who we're concerned with) don't even understand black hair no matter what. They often find it mesmerizingly beautiful when we wear our hair naturally. They are confused either way, so it truly does not matter. what matters is confidence and competence--and NO RELAXER CAN GIVE YOU COMPETENCE!!! Hampton is perpetuating a dangerous myth and WORSE penalizing students who have enough sense of self and authenticity to love their natural beauty. Sigh. BY THE WAY, I worked for a private equity (Jalia Ventures, venture capital) fund this summer as an intern. The fund CEO/manager, a black woman, feels comfertable enough in her skin to wear her hair natural as she pleases and HIRE people like me who rock fros and locs!!! Let's get it together. conformity does not equal leadership, which is ultimately what business school should be instilling. Peace.

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  34. A unique hairstyle is a specific indicator that someone has taken time and effort to establish a non-conformist attitude. It takes long to grow a nice set of braids or locs and when you look at someone that has them you can easily see the history and future of that person and how it relates to their heir.

    Ask yourself this question. Why would you hire someone that wasn't willing to put your business business before their hair? Why would you you hire someone whose priority of standards are so extraordinarily superficial they spent years bucking the trend to earn "the grand crown of hair length.?"

    By wearing your hair a certain way you make a statement about yourself and what you stand for. If you wear it messy and unkempt it says you are careless and lazy and that reflects upon you. If you wear it long and styled that says you spend too much time on superficial details and the reflects on you. If you wear your hair short and you take care of it... well you get the picture.

    Now cut off that damn hair and lets get down to business.

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  35. A unique hairstyle is a specific indicator that someone has taken time and effort to establish a non-conformist attitude. It takes long to grow a nice set of braids or locs and when you look at someone that has them you can easily see the history and future of that person and how it relates to their heir.

    Ask yourself this question. Why would you hire someone that wasn't willing to put your business business before their hair? Why would you you hire someone whose priority of standards are so extraordinarily superficial they spent years bucking the trend to earn "the grand crown of hair length.?"

    By wearing your hair a certain way you make a statement about yourself and what you stand for. If you wear it messy and unkempt it says you are careless and lazy and that reflects upon you. If you wear it long and styled that says you spend too much time on superficial details and the reflects on you. If you wear your hair short and you take care of it... well you get the picture.

    Now cut off that damn hair and lets get down to business.

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  36. Are we still trying to assimilate? Did Hurricane Katrina not teach us the value of a black soul? Has the prison-industrial complex given way to a new society with justice and equality for all people? Let's just give it another 100 years and maybe then our locs will be appropriate in "successful white America".

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  37. What is hair got to do with getting an education? Isn't money-money?

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