The Fear of Wearing Protective Styles To Work
Based on my own and other Black women's experiences, many employers and coworkers don't see braids or curls as neat or professional, but instead as a political or aggressive statement, or a signal that the employee doesn't want to fit in. Patricia Okonta, an attorney for NAACP Legal Defence and Education Fund told USA Today that, "Hair bias often stems from stereotypes that Black hair in it's natural state is dirty or unkempt."
Unfortunately, we've been conditioned to thinking this way. Professionalism was built on European features and mannerisms, especially in corporate America, and anything outside of these 'norms' is often deemed inappropriate for the workplace. It's the reason why I get anxious introducing a new hairstyle to my office — worried that I'll get a look or the questions, "Did you get a haircut?" or "Can I touch your hair?"