|The hair in all it’s splendor|
Where am I going with this? Just ‘hair’ me out.
This is Jamaica, and corporate men have a certain look; a look that if you are found outside of that box, you are frowned upon. Even more recently, my boss asked me if I don’t go to the barber, as I have acquired over a month’s worth of hair.
|Isn’t this corporate enough?|
I joked that I was becoming a Rasta, to which I was rebuked and told “oh no, no. We don’t have that here.” In this day and age, 2013, when so many other things have been accepted, why is corporate society still against a black man and his hair. I turn to the words of my best friend, Carl Cunningham, who so aptly wrote a feature piece called “Picky Picky Head—Dead”.
She didn’t know how to tell him, she was in love with a Rasta man” are the words that ring out from reggae prodigy, Protoje and veteran artiste Ky-Mani Marley. The song is titled “Rasta Love”. The profound and very true-life lyrics narrate the predicament of a Rastafarian man who happens to be in a relationship with a high society girl.
She doesn’t know how to tell her family, particularly her hoity-toity father that “she was in love with a Rasta man”! He would never have it! The relationship was growing and she was eager, but too timid to tell him, her father, what was on her mind. The song itself is very metaphorical in nature, using the story to represent a familiar societal prejudice: African descendants have not embraced their natural beauty. Picky, picky head- Dead!”
|You think Bob would’ve been accepted in the corporate world?
Yeah… Didn’t think so either.
Time and time again I’ve seen it. Places I’ve worked, church, school—you name it. After all, I did have a lot of hair once. In Carl’s experience (one relating to both males and females),
I remember–somewhat painfully–the experience of coming to Kingston to sing at church one Sabbath (Saturday) afternoon. My family came to hear my choir. My hair was twisted at the time, but I left that surprise for them to see upon coming to the church. As these church events normally go, you meet up with folk you haven’t seen for a while. When it was over I was standing by my family, and my dad met up with someone he knew from way back. I was standing right there and in the way only he does he said, “Oh, do you know my son?” (Twisted hair and all) and introduced me. Now I know my mother loves me dearly and I love her to death too, and I put my arm around her and she did not want me to hug her. Why? Because she wasn’t pleased about my hair. Ain’t that something? I said some words to her, not anything disrespectful, but I was stern about how I felt about her response to me. Basically, I thought that as her son, regardless of what I do, or how my hair looks, she should accept me and love me the same.
|My family ❤|
Corporate Jamaica’s Lack of Acceptance
8 years later, has this changed much? A little maybe, but on a large scale? No.
For my first “real” job, I went into the interview with my hair, but after being told I got the job, I was informed that my potential locks had to go. Well, kudos for the manager for seeing past my hair at least for the interview. (Although, I’ve gotten wind that he was just desperate… oh well!)
Unfortunately (or fortunately), I wasn’t around in the 1970’s or 80’s—at least that’s the period whereI think afros were in style at the time (historians, and people that were, you know, there; correct me if my timeline is wrong). What happened in those days? What kind of hairstyles did corporate men have? Was there even a corporate Jamaica? Did men have to cut their afros for work? I’m merely asking, because I really don’t know. I blame youth.
Check out these pics; seems like there existed some acceptable looks back then that aren’t so acceptable to now (never mind the pose in the 2nd one):
|This looks QUITE Corporate to me!!!|
|And what’s wrong with this one? Not big on the pose,
but he looks quite fine, hair and all!
I believe that the kind of hair a person has, should not determine how he (or even she) is perceived in the workplace. If the hair is being grown but can be kept neat, personally, I don’t see what the big fuss is. With the majority of our population being of African descent, we didn’t ask for the kind of hair we have. It’s not our fault we can’t slick back or easily maneuver our hair like Caucasians or Asians do. Why do we think that (as men) our hair has to be kept low to be considered attractive or appropriate for work? I think we need to step away from this mentality. Just like how a male African Lion is seen as graceful and attractive with his mane, men can and should be accepted if it is our desire to have our own ‘manes’. Our hair doesn’t stop us from being productive, so why continue to let it be a hindrance? Weekly or monthly haircuts are hardly the panacea for the problems in corporate Jamaica, and even in the wider society. I end with what Carl said to end his piece, and this applies to both men and women:
“There is nothing barbaric, primitive or distasteful about natural African hair. We need to realize that our young girls are victimized mentally and psychologically by these facades in the business world. They are forced to change their physical features and are given the impression that their natural hair is unprofessional and ugly. We need to realize that regardless of religious persuasion, hairstyle, dress or speech, everyone deserves fair treatment, respect and the equal opportunities. Until we release ourselves form these false values, we will always be mentally enslaved and picky, picky head will always be dead. ”
To this I raise my comb and afro pick and say “Hair, hair!”
|WHAT WAS I THINKING?!!!|