feature: “my boss asked me to straighten my afro – so i quit”

August 15, 2014

TV presenter Arisa Cox explains why she quit when her boss asked her tostraighten her afro, in a piece she recently wrote for The Huffington Post.
Exerpts: “After the three-month probationary period was up, I had a customary performance review with the news executive. And the bomb dropped. “You’ve worn your hair straight from time to time, we’d like you to wear it straight on the show.” I could feel the heat rising in my body. Ears buzzing. “I’m not interested,” I replied without a beat. I was told the request wasn’t optional “if I wanted to keep my job.”

I wasn’t clutching my pearls, I was seething.

I remember raging to my mother over the phone right afterwards, floored that a middle-aged white dude had the balls to tell me, a modern black woman, in a country as diverse as Canada, how to wear my hair. My stubborn streak exploded. I didn’t care about corporate desires for me or my appearance. My hair — and all the identity and self-worth and cultural baggage attached to it — was not up for debate. I refused to allow my image to be controlled in some boardroom that I was not also in.” (…) “But reality exists in the grey areas. Not all black women who wear straight hair are self-hating, just as not all black women who wear natural hair like afros, twists and dreadlocks have transcended vanity.”
Full piece here.
Ain’t that something?