Ethnic hair may pose job problems

Black women spend a lot of time and money on their hair. Most of them visit hair salons at least every two weeks.

Then, many of them spend a significant amount of time pressing, curling and washing their hair between visits.

Men, on the other hand, do not usually have to go through as much.

Since the Afro and S-curl hairstyles went out of style, the majority of black men have adopted low-cut styles such as waves and bald heads.

Yet, recent times have seen a plethora of men sporting non-traditional, more ethnic styles such as dreadlocks, cornrows and twists.

But, how do these styles affect one’s career opportunities?

In some regards, a man’s hairstyle affects his getting a job, said William Adams, the American Disabilities Act coordinator.

Adams, who works in the Equal Opportunity Programs office, said he often advises young men to opt for more clean-cut hairstyles when applying for a job or preparing for an interview at a career fair.

“Breaking into real corporate America, there is still some intimidation that the whites are not susceptible to,” Adams said.

Adams also said while hairstyles are a great way for black men to express themselves, appearance is one of the first things employers will pay attention to and judge prospective employees on.

“Decently cornrowed and dreaded hair may be passable, but even in corporate America, white men with long hair who are not clean shaven is not acceptable,” Adams said.

Some students said they would not mind changing their hair to increase their chances of getting a job.

“Eventually I would,” said Martel Johnson, who has thick, shoulder length dreadlocks.

However, the 20-year-old criminal justice student from Miami said it all depends on the type of job.

“But, it would have to be a job that’s giving me stability in my life,” Johnson said.

“I mean, I wouldn’t cut my hair to work at McDonald’s for like $100 a week.”

Johnson said a hairstyle should not determine a person’s ability to perform on a job.

“If I had on a suit and tie and had a fresh shave, I mean I wouldn’t look any different because of what’s on the top of my head,” he said.

Malik Miller, a 25-year-old alumnus and barber from Detroit, agreed.

“When you have dreads or braids employers have stereotypes and views of those hairstyles, but that doesn’t mean that person can’t be professional,” said Miller, who owns the on-campus unisex salon, Rattler’s Edge.

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