Stories of black women being dismissed from jobs or failing to be hired in the first place because of their hair are becoming far too frequent. And while the response to such standards differs greatly for each woman, the mother of an Illinois teen has best hit the nail on the head about the hypocritical discrimination natural haired women face in the workplace.
Tyler House, a 16-year-old honors student at Rich Central High School in Olympia Fields, was hired after just one interview to work at the new Marcus Country Club Hills Cinema. However when House, who’s been growing her locs for five years, showed up for her first day of orientation and met the man who would be her manager, he immediately dismissed her: “He called my name and brought me to the hallway and said, ‘Dreads are not allowed,’” House told WGN
While we could hall off a million reasons why that policy is problematic, House’s mother, Darnetta Herring, already got to the heart of the matter, telling the news channel:
“Why is it that dreadlocks are not permitted in your employees but it’s ok for us to spend our dreadlock money in your company?,” she asked. “I don`t understand. They come to an African American neighborhood but they discriminate against some of us. I don`t understand it.”
And that is the reality that underlies all of our demands for inclusion. A slew of industries, from fashion and beauty to entertainment, have no problem accepting our dollars in any form, but when it comes to giving credit to us as the originators of many of the objects and ideals they sell or actually representing us as part of the market, suddenly we’re not the image they want to portray — just the one they want to appropriate for material gain.
Thankfully, in the instance of Tyler House, it didn’t take long for the movie theater to see the error of their ways. Marcus Theatres released this statement in response to the discrimination House experienced:
This week we learned that a job candidate at our Marcus Country Club Hills Cinema was turned away because she wore dreadlocks. Some have expressed concern, and their reaction has led us to re-examine that decision. Marcus Theatres operates in many communities across the United States, and our success is due in part to our talented team. Our associates come to work each day committed to delivering a best-in-class experience to everyone who passes through our doors. Effective immediately, no job candidate will be disqualified because they wear dreadlocks. We are in the process of reviewing our protocols, and will update them to ensure that they reflect our professional standards and commitment to recognizing the diversity of our associates.