English Composition II

Author: Yameltha (Page 2 of 2)

unit 3 Final

Artist statement 

The topic of natural hair is very important to me. Black women’s hair has been outcasted in society for a long time; as it is a complex subject that is not easily understood. It has been seen as everything but beautiful because it doesn’t fit the “standard” definition of beauty. Growing up, we often hear the words messy, frizzy, and “nappy” when our hair is being described. Therefore, making us ashamed of having this unique hair type.

I choose to construct a poem with my audience being city tech freshmen because I wanted to be able to grab their attention from the very first line and maintain it throughout. Citytech is a very diverse school so I know a lot of the students would be able to relate to my topic. I used words that create an image in my readers’ minds. Furthermore, I wanted to be able to capture and explain the beauty of natural hair in words that we didn’t hear when we were young. My goal with this unit was to make sure my intended audience know that they weren’t alone when it comes to the long crucial journey of finally accepting and loving themselves and the eccentric hair that they were blessed with.

Unit 3 final

 

Unit 2 final draft

                     Struggles and Perceptions of Black Women’s Natural Hair

 

         History shows that black people have experienced almost all forms of adversity since time immemorial. Aspects such as slavery, physical torture, inadequate education, low employment opportunities, and criminal injustices have long been considered drawbacks to the plight of black people. Black women have also experienced their fair share of difficulties in the workplace and society, not just because of their color, but also their hair nature, texture, and grooming. For instance, most workplaces usually require women, especially black women, to have specific hairstyles. Their natural hair should be straightened to look ‘neat.’ None of this considers that the natural black hair is kinky, more delicate, and faces many other challenges. The issue is in the spotlight now after the recent Oscar awards incident where comedian Chris Rock’s joke about Jada Pinkett being bald led to Jada’s husband, Will Smith, going on stage and slapping the comedian with the whole world watching. It was later revealed that the bald style is because Jada suffers from Alopecia, a medical condition that leads to hair loss. The incident has prompted the world to address the challenges black women face in dealing with their hair and the societal pressure to conform to the set standards, which unfortunately also refers to the white people’s standards. This essay will discuss some of the struggles of black women’s natural hair and how it is perceived in the workplace and society.

To understand how much their natural hair means to black women, a grassroots approach is needed to probe the worldwide policing of black hair. The Black natural hair movement represents the Black descendants’ intergenerational pain, perseverance, and healing (Scott-Ward et al., 2021). Black women’s natural hair expresses their black history. Most, if not all, black people have pictures of their female ancestors donning eye-catching hairstyles such as dreadlocks, cornrows, and nicely kempt afros. The natural hair represents black women’s background, tribe, and social status. Almost every person’s identity could be learned by just looking at their hair. This may seem slightly exaggerated. Nevertheless, black history records indicate otherwise. For example, a black woman in mourning would either opt for a more subdued hairstyle or no hairstyle at all (Jahangir, 2015). Black women even had their own fine-tuned combs since natural black hair is much more delicate compared to white people’s hair.

Even after slavery was abolished in most colonized countries in 1865, black people had a new challenge to address. The need to fit in with the white people meant that they had to adjust their natural hair to match the mainstream white community. They had to smoothen their hair texture to camouflage with white people’s hair. This feat was referred to as ‘the great oppression’ due to the sheer difficulty encountered when they tried to smoothen their hair. Years went by with black people struggling to look like their white counterparts until they felt enough was enough. The afro hairstyle movement set off in the 1960s, where black people protested against the rising levels of racial segregation due to their hair, rendering them unemployable and perceived as ‘not smart enough.’ It was a sign of rebellion, pride, and empowerment (Jahangir, 2015). The one question asked by most black people, especially women, was whether they were still compelled to appropriate white culture in terms of hair grooming or was it now a choice they could make free-willed.

    Having discussed the history of worldwide policing of black women’s natural hair, it is much easier to understand the struggles of their natural hair and how it is perceived in the workplace and society. Studies show that skin tone, facial appearance, and hairstyle influence how black women are treated at workplaces and in society (Kennedy, 2020). As discovered, the non-acceptance of black women’s natural hair is systemic and historical. Due to their natural hairstyle, almost every black woman has stories, experiences, and run-ins at their workplace and within their community. Their hair is considered unprofessional and does not match everyone’s hair (where everyone’s hair means white people’s hair). Hairstyles such as afro and dreadlocks are deemed wild, radical, untidy, and criminal-like, which shows that black women’s natural hair is open to stereotypical views based on nonsensical opinions.

    Black women’s kinky, curly hair texture was seen as evidence of their alien nature, leading to an ideological notion of black inferiority, which justified the brutal treatment of black women at work and in their community. When black women turn up with their natural hair (non-chemically straightened or altered hairstyles), such as dreadlocks or afros, they are frequently perceived as unprofessional, hostile, rebellious, inept, criminal, or unappealing (Kennedy, 2020). Workplaces that do not allow black women to keep their natural hair often put them at a precarious disadvantage. Black women will have to spend hours preparing their hair to be more ‘presentable at work’ and more money on their hair. There are several cases of Blacks who have had employment offers withdrawn due to their hair. In the case of EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals held in 2016 permitted employers to prohibit dreadlocks throughout the recruiting process and revoke employment offers based on their hairstyle (Greene, 2016). This was after Chastity Jones, who Catastrophe Management Solutions had recruited as a customer service personnel, was forced to cut off her locks for the company to accept her. She refused to do so, which led to the termination of her employment contract with their hiring manager, citing that dreadlocks ‘tend to get messy’. (Griffin, 2019).

    The black natural hair conundrum at workplaces is severe and was even classified as a civil rights issue. Up to date, the US Courts are still at crossroads on black women’s right to wear natural hair at their workplace. For more than four decades, black employees have lodged lawsuits alleging job discrimination because of their natural hair, with varied success. These judicial decisions and shifting social and cultural norms have resulted in a complicated and unclear legal position. The court system and other regulatory entities choose to sit on the fence (Griffin, 2019). Most states in the US allow job companies to conduct recruitment based on hairstyles, thus granting them the right to forego any potential employees because of their natural hair (Griffin, 2019). For black women to wear their natural hair at work, the US government, white corporates, court systems, regulatory companies, and other institutions should allow them to keep their natural hair since it does not affect their productivity. Contrary to that, it would boost their confidence at work bearing in mind that they will finally experience inclusivity in their workplaces.

    Natural hair discrimination happens not only in workplaces but also in society. Reports suggest that the type of hairstyles black women wear can influence how they are treated in several social contexts (Kennedy, 2020). For instance, Black female high school and college students are three to six times more likely to be suspended or expelled due to their appearance (natural hair) (Henderson & Wyatt Bourgeois, 2021). Natural black women’s hair continues to be criminalized even in this informed century. Further, black women have also been verbally teased and abused by their peers solely because of their natural hair (Onnie Rogers et al., 2021). Black girls, in particular, are often targets of hair-based discrimination. It is undoubtedly discriminatory, baseless, and illegal to penalize Black natural hair in the name of academic standards. Black female students suffer in these schools for what comes naturally to them, their hair. It is unfair for them to go through this, especially at a time when black people are being encouraged to embrace their color, culture, and natural hair.

    While natural hairstyles are becoming increasingly accepted, more progress can be made in society to safeguard and promote women who prefer to adopt Afrocentric hairstyles (Asbeck et al., 2022). Although social and environmental pressures play a massive role in how society views black women’s natural hair, black women should not be forced to change their natural hair looks to conform to societal norms. Furthermore, dermatologists support black women embracing natural hair since having it is more appropriate than chemically treating your hair health-wise (Asbeck et al., 2022). Research has shown that all other chemically induced hairstyles are associated with health risks (Asbeck et al., 2022). Also, some black women living in white neighborhoods have struggled to embrace their natural hair as they view white hair as straight, soft, and seems easier to maintain. However, black women should learn to embrace their natural black hair due to their unique nature and beauty instead of trying to imitate other people’s looks (TEDx Talks, 2020).

Black women experience their fair share of difficulties in the workplace and society due to their natural hair. According to Black History, their hair portrays their background, tribe, social status, and many more aspects of their life, and so their social contexts should not coerce them into cutting their hair so that they can fit. Black women face many struggles both socially and at work. For example, some companies may fail to hire black women with natural hairstyles such as dreadlocks and afros. Also, black school-going females endure their fair share of mistreatment and abuse by their schools and the school administration. Their white colleagues tease them because of their strange hair, while the school administrations are always keen on suspending or expelling black female students on flimsy school dressing codes and hairstyles. It is high time black women learned to embrace their natural hair as has been since time immemorial. Moreover , corporations, business organizations, public institutions, and the judiciary system should all pull their weight to ensure black women are no longer discriminated against because of their natural hair.

 

References

Asbeck, S., Riley-Prescott, C., Glaser, E., & Tosti, A. (2022). Afro-Ethnic Hairstyling Trends, Risks, and Recommendations. Cosmetics, 9(1), 17. https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/9/1/17/pdf

Greene, D. W. (2016). Splitting hairs: The Eleventh Circuit’s take on workplace bans against Black women’s natural hair in EEOC v. Catastrophe Management Solutions. U. Miami L. Rev., 71, 987. https://repository.law.miami.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=4514&context=umlr

Griffin, C. (2019). How natural black hair at work became a civil rights issue. JStor Daily. https://daily.jstor.org/how-natural-black-hair-at-work-became-a-civil-rights-issue/

Henderson, H., & Wyatt Bourgeois, J. (2021). Penalizing Black hair in the name of academic success is undeniably racist, unfounded, and against the law. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/how-we-rise/2021/02/23/penalizing-black-hair-in-the-name-of-academic-success-is-undeniably-racist-unfounded-and-against-the-law/

Jahangir, R. (2015, May 31). How does black hair reflect black history? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-merseyside-31438273

Kennedy, K. (2020). My natural hair is unprofessional: The impact of Black hairstyles on perceived employment-related characteristics (Doctoral dissertation, Marquette University). https://epublications.marquette.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1580&context=theses_open

Onnie Rogers, L., Versey, H. S., & Cielto, J. (2021). “They’re always gonna notice my natural hair”: Identity, intersectionality and resistance among Black girls. Qualitative Psychology. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/H-Versey/publication/354565168_They’re_always_gonna_notice_my_natural_hair_Identity_intersectionality_and_resistance_among_Black_girls/links/6141270adabce51cf45205f4/Theyre-always-gonna-notice-my-natural-hair-Identity-intersectionality-and-resistance-among-Black-girls.pdf

Scott-Ward, G., Gupta, N., & Greene, E. (2021). Back to Natural and the Intergenerational Healing of the Natural Black Hair Movement. Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 00221678211009078. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/00221678211009078

TEDx Talks. (2020, 14 Jan). African Hair | LUCILLE ROIMEN | TEDxYouth@BrookhouseSchool [Video]. YouTube. https://youtu.be/vhkzfuXl5Sk

unit 1

As an individual that is a part of many communities, the one community that I am proud and blessed to be a part of is the Haitian community. Many of the people in Haiti speak Haitian Creole. Haitian Creole is a language that shares a combination of French dialect and African languages. It was formulated based on lath 17th and early I8th century French that is combined with Spanish, English, Portuguese, countless west African languages and Taino. 

 

A statement that is well known and used in my community is “Wap konn jój”. This is something that is usually said to children by their parents or guardian. When translated to English Word for Word it doesn’t entirely make sense as it means “you’re going to know Jorge“. However, when this statement is said by an elder it signifies that the child that is being spoken to is in trouble and for them to get ready for punishment. In the Haitian community parents raise their child to be respectful and polite to everyone that they meet no matter their status and whether they knew them or not. Whenever a parent felt like their child was being disrespectful around another adults it would make them feel embarrassed and this is a statement that they would use as a warning.

 

As a little girl this is a statement that I would often find myself hearing mainly from my mother and grandmother. This wasn’t because I was a bad child but rather because I had a listening problem. I used to find myself in trouble with a mother for doing the absolutely opposite of what she would tell me to do. I was the most well behaved child in a class or any room, you would never hear a peep out of me but when it comes to me following instructions that’s when the problem would start. She would usually give me a warning by giving me a hard clear glare and by saying “fe respew tande”. Once again when translated this means “do your respect, listen”, but the real meaning is to watch yourself or to tread lightly.  A core memory of mine would be the first time that my mother would say this to me as a small child.  It would always make me laugh and I would respond back with “who is jorge mommy”, for a very long time the true meaning of the sentence would fly over my head, like many things did at that age. The first time I really felt the meaning of the statement is when my mother was sick and she was the only one taking care of my brother and I at the time and she trusted me to take care of a task on my own. Like the child that I was I didn’t fully understand how she was feeling at the time and the state that her body was in and I kept playing around and not listening to anything that she was saying to me and I kept playing around. There came a certain moment when she got tired of it and she raised her voice and said “ Map few konn jój”. This came as a shock to me because my mother was a very soft-spoken woman and that’s the moment I realized the severity of those words.

 

There are two forms of the statement that can be used when speaking, the direct and indirect form. “Wap konn jój” being the indirect form which means “you’ll get what’s coming for you”. While, “Map few konn jój” on the other hand is the direct form. The direct form for the most part is used to put emphasis on the person that is saying the statement. Which means that in this case it would mean “I got what you looking for”. This statement has such an incredibly wide range of definitions, depending on the individual that you’re referring to it can come out light-hearted or more aggressive. When this statement is said to children they don’t take it as hard as when an adult says it’s one other adult depending on how close the relationship is. a child I used to be around many adults listening to conversation I was not supposed to and I found that when they were giving each other advice, and one wouldn’t consider such advice, they would say this in a joking matter. In addition, this is a statement that I enjoyed hearing Because of the many different ways it can be used in a sentence.

 

Even though this statement is mostly used and said to intimidate or put a child in their place, It can also be said in other manners. It can be stated in a joking matter from a mother to a child as well as from one adult to another. On the other hand, it can also be said as a way to start a conflict. I have seen two adults start a physical altercation based on the exchange of these few words. This is a statement that holds a lot of power depending on the person that is saying it.

 

In conclusion, the statement “wap konn jók” is very important to my community due to the fact that it is one of the many statements that has been passed down from generation to generation. Many elders in my family that I have spoken to have told me that when they sit down and reflect on their childhood this statement is one that often pops up during their happiest time as well as their saddest time as a child. When I was younger I used to always say that I would never say “wap konn jój” because it creates too much confusion.  However, now at 20 years old I find this statement to be a part of my every day vocabulary using it with my younger siblings or during an argument to add pizzazz or to make my point. I find it to be very essential for me to continue the very confusing get well needed traditional use of the sentence.

 

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