|| Home Page | Welcome | Contents | Staff | Support Us ||


Braids In the Workplace?

By Osakwe S. Beale
Photos by Shem Rajoon


So by now we've all read the articles talking about how much pop culture and more specifically hip-hop culture affects the youth, we've read articles screaming about the idolization and deifying of rap stars like Jay-Z and DMX, and the negative affects worshiping these stars have on teens. Just as America was getting over the shock of baggy jeans and denim outfits, braids have proliferated the scene. Braids (also known as cornrows or cornrows) can be seen in any genre of entertainment from rap music to professional basketball. No longer are braids seen as an only female hairstyle or the style of a gangster, or even a style strictly for African - Americans, rather they have become a form of expression for many artists and athletes.

Some well known artists that sport the braided look are; Montel Jordan, Jermaine Dupri, Outkast (both of them), Ginuwine, D'Angelo, Big Pun (RIP he had them right before he passed), Snoop Dogg, The Eastsidaz, and those are only some of better known rap artists. Athletes who also rock da' braids include; Latrell Sprewell, Allen Iverson, Jason Thomas, Charles Oakley and countless other NBA stars who have decided to adopt braids as the new fashion statement. So far so good? Wrong! This recent explosion of braids as a hairstyle for artists and athletes has of course inspired the youth who admire these entertainers to also take on braids as the new fashion craze. Personally if I had any say in the way of things the outside appearance of a person would have nothing to do with the content of their character or how adept they are at a skill or craft. Something as trivial as braids would never bar a person from employment. But as teens and later young men are soon to find out, this is not the case in mainstream America. As young Black men, we already have a stigma attached to us and to most, braids just add to that preconceived image.

This is something to think about as Seniors are faced with college interviews and job interviews that might just have a long-lasting effects on your life and the lifestyle that will be afforded to you in the future. You don't have to hit up the Barber shop right away but think about the life you plan to lead before you ask Shorty from upstairs to "give you Sprewell's new joint." Valerie Beal, co-owner of her own company, MR. Beal and Associates, one of the black owned enterprises with clout on the floor of the Stock Exchange, made it quite clear recently that she would never hire a young man with braids or even locks for that matter.

When asked why an African- American business would act in a discriminative way toward other African Americans, she replied, "Race is not the issue here. It is about an appearance that says you are serious about the way you work. It's about a conservative tradition that even if it clashes with your personal style allows certain opportunities to be afforded to you, certain opportunities that I can assure you would not exist with braids." So maybe being obstinate isn't the best answer, maybe expecting to shatter long-standing traditions because of a strong belief in one's abilities isn't something to bet on. Until the powers that be decide to change the way things are should we conform?

As someone who has had braids for 2 years and is entering Morehouse College in the fall, I say don't be so quick to conform.....but then on the other side don't let something like hair stop you from making moves.


|| Home Page | Welcome | Contents | Staff ||

Back to the top