Dallas County Judge Amber Givens-Davis recently presided over a high-profile case. But her hair and makeup became the centerpiece of conversation.
The trial of Wesley Mathews was the first major case in which Givens-Davis allowed press into the courtroom and it was also live-streamed on June 26. The judge’s hair is shaved on both sides with the top long. There were thousands of comments on Facebook, many criticizing her hairstyle and “bold” makeup, and even calling her “ghetto.”
Givens-Davis has been presiding over the 282nd Judicial District Court since 2015. She previously served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York and Texas for eight years.
A member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Amber Givens-Davis received her bachelor’s degree in political science from Tuskegee University. She earned a law degree from the Syracuse University College of Law.
“It’s necessary to have the conversation,” the judge told NBC 5-DFW of the controversy over her hairstyle. “We have to talk about the look, so we can get beyond it. Because there’s so much more. Look to someone’s substance.”
“I didn’t get here by happenstance,” she said. “No one gave me this position. This is one that was ordained by God. And I’ve had to work to earn it.”
Amber Givens-Davis also said that she has the audacity to be herself, despite judgment from others.
“I don’t separate my person from my job,” Givens-Davis told KDFW. “But it just so happens that my person is being highlighted because of the audacity that I have to be myself. But my job is very serious. I take it very seriously.”
She also said, “If you looked at me in my dress outside the courtroom you would never assume that I was the presiding judge because assumptions fail us all the time.”
Many took to Twitter in support of Givens-Davis:
Soror Judge Amber Givens-Davis, so proud to see you on the news tonight! Please continue to inspire the youth with your hair producing positive self esteem. You Rock!!
— Patricia Williams (@americancarePat) July 2, 2019
#if you looked at me in my dress outside the courtroom you would never assume that I was the presiding judge because assumptions fail us all the time,” Judge Amber Givens – Davis pic.twitter.com/aqslnjhavj
— joan wairimu kanja (@nimokanja) July 2, 2019
— QUEENMOVATIONS ? (@MckenzieXanthea) July 3, 2019
Broadcast journalism is also a professional field where Black women are judged for their hairstyles.
Last month, Briana Collins, a 27-year-old TV news anchor at Fox Champaign in Illinois, celebrated wearing her hair in braids on-air.
Collins told DiversityInc that she approached management at her current TV station about wearing the hairstyle, which was not accepted by previous stations where she was employed.
“I submitted pictures of myself with braids in the past and got their approval,” she said. “It was very exciting for me because straight hair is the industry standard. It’s nice to be different and look different and to have managers who support that.”