A recent court ruling has now made it legal to ban dreadlocks during the hiring process in Alabama, Florida, and Georgia.
This all started when Chastity Jones was offered a job with Catastrophe Management Solutions in Mobile, Alabama. However, her offer was later rescinded when a Human Resources Manager told Chasity that they would not hire her due to her dreadlocks, stating that dreadlocks “tend to get messy, although I’m not saying yours are, but you know what I’m talking about.”
Chastity Jones then filed a lawsuit claiming that refusing to hire someone based on appearance is in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which would not have been passed if it weren’t for the work of Black people fighting and organizing! However, Chasity’s claim was denied. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which covers Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, stated that banning dreadlocks during the hiring process is a “race neutral policy” and therefore not covered under the Civil Rights Act, which outlaws discrimination based on race, sex, color, religion, and national origin.
We have been here before. We know this game all too well, and we will not let it play out again- this is a Jim Crow style law! Not hiring someone for wearing dreadlocks is outrightly racist and we must hold corporations accountable and demand that they not abide by this racist law. This court ruling is not just about dreadlocks it is about our freedoms as Black people!
For centuries dreadlocks have been an expression of deep religious and spiritual beliefs for those who practice the Rastafarian religion. The term “dreadlock” comes from the Rastafarian culture and originated in eastern Africa; and for Rastafarians wearing dreadlocks is a way to be connected to the Rasta god. We know that dreadlocks are not only worn by Rastafarians but is a popular hairstyle worn by many Black people who view dreadlocks as a sign of their African identity or simply as a hairstyle that they like to wear.
Dreadlocks are not a “race neutral hairstyle” as Catastrophe Management Solutions has claimed. Dreadlocks have historical significance and are deeply rooted in Black culture globally. Today many white people, have appropriated dreadlocks and chose to wear their hair in locks however, the hairstyle is racialized and it is Black people who suffer from that- it is Black people who are denied jobs, and banned from attending schools due to wearing dreadlocks, not white people.
This court ruling says loud and clear that in the workplace, and public spaces in general, Black people, our culture, and religious beliefs are not accepted. And that white culture is the only thing that is allowed- and you either assimilate to that or you get fired. However, we will not assimilate we will resist and be unapologetically ourselves- unapologetically Black!