Black Enterprise Says Cut Your Locs

photo “A couple of months ago, Susan L. Taylor, editorial director of Essence magazine, the nation’s leading magazine for black women, said she had backed out of a speaking engagement at Hampton University after learning that “braids, dreadlocks and other unusual hairstyles are not acceptable” for majors in a five-year master’s of business administration program at the university.Perhaps the greatest challenge . . . students will face in the work world is remaining whole and true to themselves in environments that are often hostile to African-Americans. Staying connected to our community and culture is critical. Trying to transform themselves to fit into hardly welcoming environments has scarred countless numbers of Black people,” Taylor said in a recommendation to university President William R. Harvey. Her sentiments later were seconded by Essence Editor Angela Burt-Murray, a Hampton alum.

Their arguments don’t wash at Black Enterprise magazine, as Mashaun Simon, the student representative to the board of the National Association of Black Journalists, found out. Simon, who attends Georgia State University, was told to cut his dreadlocks if he wanted to keep his summer internship at Black Enterprise. He said he happily complied.

“I never wanted my hairstyle to become an issue like it has become,” he told Journal-isms. “Black Enterprise is one of the most widely respected magazines in this country and my being here speaks to the talent I possess as a student journalist.

“I am thankful to be here and blessed to have been chosen out of the many who wanted to be here. And so, I am very comfortable with the choice I made in cutting my hair. I understand what my position on the board of directors for the National Association of Black Journalists has brought to this discussion; however, at the end of the day I have to think about what is best for me and my still infant journalism career and govern myself accordingly. I have made that decision and stand by it.”

Earl G. Graves, founder of the publication, outlined his philosophy in a February 2000 “Publisher’s Page” column. “Simply put, we must remove every reason – including things as superficial as our style of hair or dress – that an advertiser, an event sponsor, a subscriber, a job candidate and even a co-worker might have for not wanting to do business with us,” Graves said.

“What’s alarming about the desire to subordinate traditional dress codes to personal preferences is that too often those who want to make the most radical departures are those who are the most poorly positioned, in terms of career survival and advancement, to do so: young, inexperienced black professionals who are in the vulnerable early stages of their careers. It’s the equivalent of an unproven third-year player trying to enjoy the privileges accorded a 10-time All-Star.”

Got a comment or opinion? SOUND OFF. Leave a comment below. Just keep it clean. 

4 Responses to “Black Enterprise Says Cut Your Locs”
  1. Bernadette says:

    This is an outrage. What does hairstyle have to do with being able to get the job done! It is sad that Earl Graves thinks that imposing “hair style” regulation amy retain and increase business to some degree. News flash — Corporate America will find any reason to do/continue/remove business from Black Corporations. No one has control over that. If we make too much money there’s a problem. If we have better products, there’s a problem. The fact is, there will always be a problem. Conforming to mainstream through assimulating likeness in hairstyles is contrary to the authenticity of the Black community. Isn’t the purpose of Black Entreprise to celebrate success in our community while maintaining integrity to our heritage by celebrating who we are?

  2. Meranda says:

    wow. I wonder why the strikers in the Civil rights movements didnt bleach thier skins so as to remonve any reason a white person might not want to be around them
    Scary stuff, esp since I braid my hair to take care of it. I wonder, what would happen to me. Im not good at pressing it, I cant afford a relaxer and Im not THAT good at doing my own hair ( I actually get decent results using curl and defriz cremes). Wow!

  3. Lydia Brooks says:

    Actually “corporate” will be more likely to trust and want to do business with a black american if he or she is being their true selves. They have much more respect for a black woman or man thats natural and educated than those to try to “assimilate” into their world. We are the most unique race of people, every woman in the world goes to the salon to get things added to make them look like a natural woman and they are the things that we are naturally born with. The truth of the matter is we are not trusted by “them” because they know our history and that at one point in time we ran this world. Obama is’t the first black president and they know that. Look up James Smith he was was here b4 Washington and his croonies. Yes the white guy in the boat with Pocahantas was actually a black man and he ran the country. We aren’t trusted because we do things to tear down our own race with things such as fashion and music. Now I agree if you walk in the office with purple hair yeah I’d fire you on the spot, but if you walk in with your hair in it’s natural state i.e. dreaded come in and have a seat. Now I’ve finished my rant. Oh by the way the same woman that made the comment has been wearing braids down her back since the seventies and she made it why dscourage the rest of us.

  4. Annette says:

    First off, let me say I am natural (nappy). I can’t get upset with the way anyone chooses to run their business or demand that they change their practices. I don’t know how the owner of black enterprises built his business, career or reputation so who am I to get angry or demand that he changes his business values. I am glad that Susan Taylor and Essence magazine have embraced braids, locks and natural hair. Her hair always look neat and professional. Different strokes for different folks. The majority of us are not starting our own businesses and companies as these individual have done. We choose to work for individuals and companies who establish rules for their business and we need not get upset but respect the rules or values these companies identify with. Let us not get upset when our ideals are different from others. This is america and entrepreneurship is an option for all. Its like my mother always said, when you are in my house you will abide by my rules., when you are in your own house you can do what you want. Until we own our own businesses and corporation, we must abide by the rules of the people we CHOOSE to work for.

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