I’ve worn box braids to work and might call a company meeting about it | Pro IQRA News

I’ve worn box braids to work and might call a company meeting about it

 | Pro IQRA News

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When I am the only black person in white spaces, there is always something about me that needs explaining or addressing. And my hair is culprit number 1.

for me natural hair will be natural Choosing to dress to work if you like, but for some reason, it could be seen as sloppy, distracting, or unprofessional. Honestly, I should be allowed to include over $3,500 in hair care costs per year as a tax write-off since it’s low-key if you want to be located in Corporate America as a POC.

That’s why the CROWN Act was passed in March 2022 to ban discrimination on the basis of race, such as “denial of employment and education opportunities because of hair texture or protective hairstyles.” But being “unprofessional” to my hair isn’t the only reaction I dread. There is another type of unwanted attention that can be incredibly embarrassing.

For example, by the time I was in my mid-20s, when I wore box braids without a hip-length knot to work, we might have called an emergency company meeting about it.

Now, nothing is more classic than some good old-fashioned box braids. It’s low-maintenance, ageless, timeless, and can also be styled in any braid length, color, or thickness. Combined with a six-hour hold and six-hour detangling, braids are the perfect hairstyle, especially in the summertime.

So when the warm weather hit early New York City, I found myself in Harlem, where braiding salons are in abundance. As I stared at myself in the mirror, I wondered if a fellow social misfit had something to say about my hairdo… again. But even though I represent only half of the black population at the fashion brand where I worked, ethnic diversity was paramount, it seems. We’ve even signed a diversity statement upon hiring!

This was my first job after working as an executive assistant for five years, where I never considered wearing braids because it was a Official Work environment. Wearing braids in an all-white money office would be like wearing a skimpy swimsuit to your grandmother’s funeral; Nobody knows how to act. Instead, I always had the seams centered in the back, straight, and non-threatening.

But this new desk was modern and trendy! We can wear stylish sneakers and flashy nails. people here I got itbut when I passed by my (white) boss one morning, I immediately recognized her suspicious facial expression.

You might assume that people can put two and two together when it comes to hair extensions. If one day is short and long the next, what is the other interpretation could be there? naturally, These are extensions.

Her face turned from confusion to excitement, finally settling into genuine, child-like wonder. She ran with the same frequency as a puppy happily testing the first pile of fresh leaves. I’ve never seen someone so enamored with my existence before. She asked if I had some free time later, so I could “tell her more about my hair.” I wasn’t sure if this was a joke because what exactly am I going to tell her? I have braids. I’ve never gone on a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Sandals Jamaica.

The author is seated in a braided chair in the middle of fixing her protective hairdo.

Image courtesy of Victoria Hoffman

The author is seated in a braided chair in the middle of fixing her protective hairdo.

I wasn’t mentally prepared to break down the methodologies behind this most popular protective hairstyle at 7:41 a.m. on a weekday, but let’s see where this goes.

Well, first (and respectfully, since you’re my boss, and I feel the need to accommodate all of your personal queries), yes. caught me. I had a respectable shoulder-length haircut on Tuesday and ass-length braids the next. I can explain! These are called extensions, and they are self-explanatory! Finished. hair of this? unclear. Sorry, I know I should have mentioned all this and more in my interviews, but I really didn’t think it would happen so quickly or ever.

I wonder a a little Why are you asking this now that you’ve seen me in these braids for four days already. Oh, and I was confused because I used to put them in a bun on Tuesday and Wednesday, but today they’re in a ponytail? This is because my braids were in a bun on Tuesday and Wednesday, but today they are in a ponytail. Hope this helped clear things up?

How do I wash my hair? I’m glad to answer. This is a good question for business! sometimes Windex, sometimes Fantastico; It depends on my mood. After that, it’s just a normal drying job…using my white friend’s hot breath, that is.

How often do I wash my hair? How often do you do laundry? How often do you wear a bra without washing it? How often do you shower? Do you have a full body lotion every time? Do you wash your hands first or do you go straight to the body? Do you usually wipe from front to back? What is your favorite brand of tampon? Does the rug match the curtains? It’s time you and I argued out loud!

Oops! One second, the volume of the Upbeat Lofi Spotify Office playlist is low. Do you mind if I pause it entirely? I notice that 75 percent of our office of 40 people are listening in on our conversation. That’s 30 adults who hear me awkwardly explain what “edges” and “my kitchen” are, and I’d like to see that number get close to 100 percent. You ask some powerful questions. Everyone has the right to know the answers.

The author takes a selfie of herself with her braids styled into an updo.

Image courtesy of Victoria Hoffman

The author takes a selfie of herself with her braids styled into an updo.

Do I feel alienated and trigger this whole interaction? Haha sure! I think it reminds me a bit of childhood pool parties and summer barbecues in Texas, where all the white girls would jump recklessly into the chlorine pool without a proper swimming cap to protect their hair. I? I will never do anything dangerous. And before you ask, yes, my brown latex cap made me look like a penis, and yes, I answered a lot of questions about it.

I was trying to explain that chlorine makes my hair “break,” causing confusion and hysteria every time the question was asked, incidentally, every time we were in the pool. When I forwarded their stumps to my mother, she’d say, “Well, did you ask me why their hair didn’t break?” Good question! Did not come.

After a long relaxing day teaching Black Physics to a group of my third-grade friends, we’d pile into the outdoor bathroom to rinse off before refueling with Lunchables. They were all laughing together while passing bottles of shampoo and conditioner around someone’s mom packed in a bag of Vineyard Vines, but when the bottles reached me, I politely declined. My chemically relaxed hair needed something a little more defined…

“Oh, your shampoo and conditioner is shaped like a smiling strawberry, smells like sugar, and has a comical title? Cute! A thick mixture of chemicals in a gray bottle with “bicarbonate” in the name!” And the black physics lesson would start over.

If I could pass words of encouragement to my 8-year-old self, I would say: First and foremost, you don’t look like a penis. You are so cute, and one day you are going to be so hot. Secondly, your hair requires more attention because it is not easy to be flawless. Finally, being emotionally induced over trivial things about yourself is a rite of passage, so congratulations! You’ve officially received another punch on your black card. I would suggest writing some elevator speeches for moments like this because it will happen many times over again. Forever!

My advice to those wondering how to act properly is simply not to make it weird. I think a question or two is fine If you are on a personal level, But like any other human interaction you’ve had in your life, no playing or touching is allowed. Just pretend I’m a normal person!

When I was younger, I would totally internalize this (and every other condition like it) and eventually self-explode. Today, I am not outwardly bothered by microaggressions like these; I’m just tired. On the other side of things, my mom always says to me, “Your response is your responsibility.” You can really only control yourself.

So, in the end, I kindly answered my boss’s questions with about 20 seconds before “jokingly” suggesting she take a trip to Harlem and get her collection of braids because she loves them so much. She laughed, but then stopped after dryly saying, “No, seriously.”

In the end, I decided against it.