To add insult to injury, much closer to home – the Dean of Hampton University’s Business School Sid Credle has staid a controversial decision that has been in place at the school since 2001, one that bans men [who are enrolled in the five-year program] from wearing locks or cornrows. As reported by ABC, Credle is fixed on the idea that the requirement better assists men in obtaining jobs when they are looking to successfully climb the corporate latter, as it is important to him for students to “look the part”.
Interestingly or not so interestingly, Credle had this to say about the entire debacle:
“When was it that cornrows and dreadlocks were part of African-American history.” He adds, “I mean Charles Drew didn’t wear it; Muhammad Ali didn’t wear it; Martin Luther king didn’t wear it.”
To rebut Credle’s statement, one should ask: when was it that cornrows and albeit to a lesser extent, locks were not an intrinsic part of African-American iconography? And, when did a select few African-American men become the dictators of how, when and where African-American men should wear their hair? Admittedly, dreadlocks have not been a mainstay in African-American culture but, have been a part of it nonetheless. What Credle fails to realize is that what happens in America is not always reflective of what’s happening in America. So, if we talk about a pictorial lexicon with respect to locks, we can draw on inspiration from folk such as Bob Marley and later Busta Rhymes, Mr. Cheeks, and Lil’ Jon to name a few. Recently, with the Natural Hair Movement in full swing, there really is no putting a halt to the mutiplicitous ways in which Black people choose to rock their hair – be it in locks, cornrows, box braids, etc.
What is most disturbing about the Dean’s decision to stay the ban is that it is reflective of the reality of Corporate America, a place where many are not permitted to be expressive, boisterous or possess even a tinge of idiosyncrasy. So, the question becomes: how much blame can be placed on Credle when he genuinely would like to witness students prevail and land jobs upon graduating? The proof is in the pudding since the school has placed ninety-nine percent of its students after their having left the program.
This is a conversation that is getting a lot of press yet, little is being done to change the way things are. We should all be tired of hearing personal anecdotes of friends, colleagues, and family members telling of encounters at Hollister, Six Flags, or American Eagle, where an employer hints at or urges a Black employee to alter their hairstyle to fit into a desired, corporate-friendly image.