Independent Study (Step 1 & Step 2)

Step 1:

I am choosing to use my independent study to shed light on the existence of race based hair discrimination in the workplace and how this practice lends direct assistance to the marginalization of black women that are members of the work force. I know that I am going to have to look further into specific accounts of women who have experienced indifferent treatment at work based on how they are choosing to wear their hair. I may even broaden the scope and look into how race based hair discrimination can limit the success of black women and young girls in their academic growth. Most prominently though, my focus will be African American women who choose to wear their kinkier tresses in professional settings that have received push back, lost their jobs, and even their right to an eduction as their natural hair textures are considered “unprofessional” and “unconventional”.

My project will cover topics such as (but, possibly not limited to):

  • Race – Researching first hand accounts of how kinkier texture hair traditionally found (in most instances) on black women are received in professional/academic settings as compared to finer/looser curl patterns.
  • Gender – How this form of discrimination helps to limit the success of women (specifically African American women) in professional/academic settings.
  • The history tied to why black women have felt the need to chemically process their hair in order to assimilate with White culture
  • Natural hair as a form of resistance**
    • Pulling information from a few interesting articles that I’ve come across while taking a deeper look into my topic of choice
    • Having a bit of trouble finding scholarly sources but, I will continue to research

Step 2:

Provisional Thesis Statement/Argument: Black people have faced years of stigmatization based on their appearances. Hair is a huge part of who we are. In most cases, many people use their hairstyle as a form of expression. When I see a woman with a huge healthy afro my mind immediately turns to words like strength, beauty, power, confidence etc. Alternatively, there a many who may feel that African American women wearing their natural hair reads as them being unprofessional and uncouth. These opinions derive from the stereotypes associated with being black in America. Women have it hard enough trying to find success in this society structured specifically for the betterment of men. To be a black woman in America expressing her blackness in the form of a hairstyle and have that classified as “unacceptable” is truly disheartening. We must normalize kinky hair as it is something that has existed for years and will continue to be part of the black woman’s aesthetic.

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message