(WWTI) – In October of last year a social media post went viral of Tashara Parker, a morning traffic anchor and reporter for WFAA in Dallas, wearing her hair in a style that featured four buns. The post sparked a national conversation about natural hair in the workplace.
ABC50’s Alex Hazard discussed the topic locally with Nyiima Stokes of FaysFadez, a Black-owned salon and barbershop in Watertown.
When it comes to natural hair styles in the workplace, Stokes said she thinks people have a hard time seeing it as professional because it is not something they are used to. “They look at it as unkempt or dirty, which is not at all the case. Anyone with natural hair knows that it takes a lot more to upkeep that kind of hair,” Stokes said.
Another video went viral in 2019 of a high school wrestler who was forced to cut his dreadlocks in order to compete in a tournament, evidence of the fact that children are subject to natural hair discrimination also.
Stokes said that dreadlocks and braids have been considered protective styles within the Black community forever. She caters to men and women of all ages and various cultures at the barbershop and said that everyone just wants to feel good and look their best.
“Being proud of what you have and where you come from is a big part of who you are so for society to look at natural hair as not something that is professional or beautiful is demeaning and hurtful.”
Stokes said the national stories we have seen go viral could easily go viral in the North Country also. She said that because we are in such a rural area with a lack of diversity, the possibility of experiencing the same thing locally definitely exists, even though she hopes it doesn’t happen.
Stokes said that preventing this from happening is all about education and being more open to other people and cultures. “The world is changing and it’s time for us to change with it,” Stokes said. “Not just hair, not just the color of someone’s skin, but everything around us.”