This Facebook User is Going Viral For Talking About Natural Hair In The Workplace
Is natural hair presentable in the workplace? According to Facebook User and Ross employee Antoinette Jones, a certain district-area manager of the retail giant doesn’t think so. Antoinette Jones, a member of her store’s loss prevention department took to Facebook on Monday, December 10, 2018 to air out her frustrations after being ordered to take down her bantu knot-like hairstyle during her scheduled shift.
Jones, still in full uniform at the time she filmed the video, was visibly, and understandably upset with the supervisor’s order to dismantle a hairstyle. In the video, Jones explains she was experimenting with the style to find a new way to curl her hair. Stating that there were no concrete grounds for her to take it down, Jones recounts her experience in detail igniting a debate about natural hair in the workplace.
To preface her video, Jones begins by saying she actually enjoys her job. She’s happy there and has done well enough to even receive a raise. Everything was fine in her six months of employment and even calls the location a “pretty great place.” Everything up until the apparent hair and perhaps cultural discrimination, of course.
Working While Black
In the now viral video, she dutifully points out that she was in full dress code when the unknown higher-up approached her about her hair. Noting that the person who doesn’t work for the store, but who is certainly a Ross corporate employee, made a point to express his displeasure with her hairstyle. According to Jones, the mysterious man said that he didn’t believe Jones was “presentable.” This despite Jones being perfectly and presentably in uniform, as seen in the video.
Jones mentions in the video that there is nothing in the company’s bylaws that said her hairstyle was not compliant. But even so, what does one’s hairstyle have to do with one’s work ethic? And are company policies that make it their mission to keep diverse and traditionally African hairstyles like locs, braids, and cornrows out of the office implicitly racist? After all, there’s no denying that policies like this affect the black community more than any other. One could easily argue that by keeping them in place, they are reinforcing that only non-cultural, “white-approved” hairstyles are appropriate for the workplace.
Not a one-time occurrence
Jones begins her testimony by giving us a bit of history with the new style. She mentions that last week, she wore the hairstyle and got many compliments from other people of color. Management had little issue with it then, until the unknown man who is allegedly above the store manager made a comment about not liking Jones’s hairstyle. She left the situation alone, hoping that it was a one-time issue. But when she returned to work on Monday, she was met with her regular manager’s equally disappointing request to take down her hair.
In the end, Jones ultimately refused to take it down and reached a headscarf compromise with her boss. She’s heard towards of the end video tearfully saying she’s on her way to her car to “I’m about to get a scarf to wrap it around my unpresentable hair.”
She was then asked to take a picture to prove to management that she was in dress code, which Jones maintains she never actually violated. And despite the devastating encounter, she wraps up her video on a positive note:
“So the point of this message is just to say I don’t care who you are… But especially if you are a person of color, whether you wear a ‘fro, or you wear a wig, or your hair is straight, or you have locs. No matter what don’t ever let anybody make you feel like your hair is inferior or you are not a person because of what you naturally do because of your DNA–that’s b***s***.” – Antoinette Jones
Standing in Solidarity
The response from Jone’s video, now with nearly 15,000 shares seems to be overwhelmingly positive. Jones later posted a photo with her and what seems to be a supporting coworker. The coworker, who appears to be fair-skinned, is pictured smiling with Jones while rocking a similar bantu knot-like hairstyle and Ross employee tag. Jones captioned the photo: I love support. ♥️ this made my night. thank all of y’all for your words and support I won’t stop the fight.
Here’s how it ended:
We spoke to Jones who gave us express permission to tell her story. She had this to say about the incident:
I just aspire to be an inspiration for all women of color especially the ones that feel defeated by not having a voice… This isn’t a black and white issue for me. It’s respect. Love is love and I believe in equality but first, you gotta accept us and respect us for equality to be valid. — Antoinette Jones
We obviously had to know how the story ended. This is what Jones told us:
The love from the Facebook post got HRs attention. I was told I could remove my scarf, and since then it’s been difficult and overwhelming to work there. I have since taken the actions necessary to make sure this doesn’t just end because they are terrified of the truth airing out.
What a win for diversity in the workplace. We sincerely hope her work conditions improve, and call on Ross to do the right thing: make sure nothing like this ever happens again.
You can view the full video here: