close and back to page

Latest News

Latest News

Hairstyles of Black Women: Cases of Discrimination

Mainstream society still falters at the acceptance of natural hair and hairstyles of Black women, which has led to legal action against discrimination.

Photo by Shutterstock

By Sheryl Estrada


Photo by Shutterstock

It's 2015, yet the natural hair and hairstyles of Black women continues to be taboo in mainstream society in the U.S. and abroad. At the workplace, during travel and even at leisure, Black women face an additional layer of discrimination.

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)  

When Malaika Singleton, Ph.D., a neuroscientist employed by the California State Senate at the time, began a 2013 trip to London as a U.S. delegate to the G8 Dementia Summit little did she know her "sisterlocks" hairstyle, a form of dreadlocks, would be an issue.

TSA agents at both the Los Angeles International Airport and the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport grabbed and squeezed her natural hair from top to bottom.

She contacted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California. In 2014 the ACLU filed an administrative complaint on her behalf to challenge TSA's discriminatory hair searches. Ironically, in 2012, a similar complaint was also filed on behalf of Novella Coleman, a Black woman and Staff Attorney with the nonprofit organization; she represented Singleton.

The ACLU announced March 26 that an agreement was reached with the TSA. The agency agreed to conduct trainings for TSA agents throughout the country, with special emphasis on hair pat-downs of Black female travelers. TSA will also monitor all the airports "for consistent implementation of TSA and DHS policies and to detect the existence of a racially discriminatory impact."

"I hope that this agreement and the proposed trainings will lead to a more equitable treatment of all travelers throughout the U.S., regardless of their ethnic or cultural background or how they wear their hair," Singleton said in a statement.

 Madisons New York Grill and Bar

In Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 19-year-old Lettia McNickle, who has worked as a hostess at a Canadian franchise of Madisons New York Grill and Bar on Drummond Street since October, said she came to work one day in March with a braided hairstyle on the side of her head, and has not received any shifts since.

According to CBCNews, McNickle said her manager reprimanded her in front of fellow employees saying her hairstyle was not acceptable.

"I obviously wanted to know what it was she didn't like specifically about the hairstyle, so the [next] day I asked her, 'What is it that's wrong with my hair?' And she said, 'We don't want that kind of look here at the restaurant,'" McNickle said on CBC Daybreak.

Her boss sent her home. McNickle filed a discrimination complaint against the restaurant with the Quebec Human Rights Commission, through the Centre for Research Action on Race Relations (CRARR), a nonprofit also in Quebec.

"I think it's important for businesses to know that it's important to be aware of the fact that even with a grooming policy or even a policy about appearance, one can still discriminate against minorities or minority women if this policy has a negative effect based on their race or ethnicity," Fo Niemi of CRARR told DiversityInc.

He said CRARR looked at case precedents from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in the U.S., as this is the first case of its kind in Canada.

In a statement, Madisons New York Grill and Bar said the incident did not involve race or discrimination and apologized if the situation caused harm to McNickle or her friends and family. However, it also states, "As in any organization, there is an internal protocol to follow and a dress code to respect to guarantee that our customers' experience is ideal."

CRARR stated that they also have yet to see a written standard grooming policy from the restaurant.

The brand vice-president for the Canadian franchises of the Madisons chain, Gilles Pépin, said because business is down McNickle has not been given any shifts, and she is not fired.

Niemi explained that if the Quebec Human Rights Commission concludes discrimination occurred the plaintiff must be compensated, including lost wages and moral damages, within 30 days. "[The fines] are meant to be remedial not punitive," he said.

If you are a Black woman who wears a natural hairstyle, please feel free to share your experiences in our comments section.  We will be posting a follow-up with our reader's feedback

 DiversityInc Staff Writer Michael Nam contributed to this article.

 

Black Women: The Voice of Influence in Midterm Elections

Black women "motivate and galvanize the communities that they touch," said Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.

REUTERS

With the midterm elections two weeks away, it's clear that a historically overlooked voting block — Black women — who are more politically engaged than any other demographic — will make all the difference for Democratic candidates.

Read More Show Less

Voter Registration Deadline for 15 States Today

"Do not assume you are properly registered to vote," warns activist Shaun King.

REUTERS

"Do not assume you are properly registered to vote," warned Shaun King repeatedly. His wife went to vote with her registration card in her hand, and they said she couldn't vote. King said some of the reasons that people are being turned away are nefarious.

Fifteen states close registration today, including Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Texas. States that do not have online registration: Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, and Texas.

A list of every state's deadline and links to each state's voting requirements was published by the New York Times.

Read More Show Less

Moving While Black: 'They think I'm stealing, I've been hearing this for 40 years,' Says Karle Robinson​

After Robinson filed a complaint, the police chief gave the excuse that they recently had car break-ins and were on high alert.

Karle Robinson, 61, a retired Army vet was finally living his dream — moving to the countryside. He bought a home in Tonganoxie, Kan., and had almost finished a grueling 12-hour move back in August, in the early hours of the morning, when police showed up, shined flashlights, and asked him to prove he lived there and cuffed him.

Welcome to the neighborhood.

Read More Show Less

Christine Blasey Ford Stood on the Shoulders of Anita Hill as She Testified

Black women keep watch and push forward as Ford's day in court proves to be a far cry from 1991.

For every woman of color who watched the hearing today, or has followed any of the drama up to this point, our backs are heavy.

Read More Show Less

'Permit Model' Tries to Prevent Black Women from Taking Photos: Video

A white man demanding a permit interrupts Black women working on a photo shoot.

Following in the footsteps of Permit Patty, BBQ Becky, License Plate Linda, Foul Freddy and others, is Permit Model.

Read More Show Less

Venus and Serena Williams Mocked by Australian Athletes Wearing Blackface

Earlier this month, Serena Williams was also the subject of a racist cartoon in an Australian newspaper after the US Open women's final.

REUTERS

Once again, Serena Williams is insulted in Australia.

Read More Show Less

Obama to Trump: We're Supposed to Stand up to Discrimination and to Nazi Sympathizers

To voters: You can make sure that white nationalists don't feel empowered to march in Charlottesville in the middle of the day.

CLICK ON DETRIOT

Former President Barack Obama kicked off his campaigning for November's midterms, on Friday afternoon, and took jabs at President Trump and the spineless backbones of his Republican constituents.

Obama spared no expense rebuking the administration's actions that have emboldened racists.

Read More Show Less

Latino Employees Fired in Miami for Being Too Latino

Company leadership says loud, sexy, Hispanic employees with ethnic mannerisms are not allowed.

REUTERS

Former employees at Swire Properties filed a lawsuit in August against the company claiming they were fired because there was no place for "Hispanic Emotionalism" at work.

Read More Show Less