In case you somehow don't already know: It's never okay to reach out your hand and touch a Black woman's hair without permission — I mean, how was that ever even a thing?
Touching is clearly not okay, but there are a number of other things that we, as non-Black people, should also consider when talking about Black women's hair. Things like gawking at, commenting on, or cracking jokes about their latest style switch-up are equally inappropriate, and can make Black women feel singled out.
These kinds of dynamics can take place anywhere, between friends, with strangers in public spaces, or on public transportation. But things can get particularly complicated in the workplace.
Today, Black women continue to face discrimination in the workplace. Whether it's racial bias and stereotyping, micro-aggressions from coworkers and superiors, or disproportionate instances of sexual harassment, Black women often experience a very different version of the workplace compared to their white — or even non-Black people of color — counterparts.
These dynamics are particularly pronounced when it comes to hair. Today, the natural hair movement means that more Black women than ever are embracing their natural hair textures, which often means routinely switching up their aesthetics and using protective styles, like wigs, twists, and braids. Unfortunately, this also means dealing with an influx of unwanted commentary from other people in the office.
To shed some light on some of the many challenges, Refinery29 asked ten Black women to share what it's been like for them to have natural hair in the workplace.
These women remind us that non-Black people have a responsibility to reflect on the ways we behave and interact with our Black colleagues, and how we might often unconsciously contribute to their discomfort in our workspaces.
Welcome to MyIdentity. The road to owning your identity is rarely easy. In this yearlong program, we will celebrate that journey and explore how the choices we make on the outside reflect what we're feeling on the inside — and the important role fashion and beauty play in helping people find and express who they are.