My best friend, Melissa, is the epitome of the phrase, ‘black girl magic.’ Not only did she graduate first in her class from Harvard Law School, but she is one of the nicest people you will ever meet.
Also, she has been embracing her natural hair even when her own mother has told her that she should probably consider getting a relaxer, if she wanted to be successful in corporate America.
Melissa went into her interview for a prestigious law firm in NYC, with a gorgeous twist out, and her mother was the first one she called a week later, after she got the call and accepted the job offer. That was 8 years ago.
Melissa has been putting in work at her firm and turning heads. She was the youngest attorney there, and was breaking records left and right. Melissa just knew that she was a shoein for the new partner position, and everybody at the firm did too. However, when she found out that she didn’t get it, and another girl did, who hadn’t even been working at the firm as long as her, she was livid.
She immediately went to her boss’s office, and asked him what happened. For a lack of so many words, her boss said that as a partner at this firm, it’s not all about what you can do, but how you look. He told her that a partner at the firm was essentially the face of the company, and Melissa’s look wasn’t a face for the firm.
He then told her that he was going to tell her later that day, but that she was getting a raise and a new office, for all of the hard work she’s been putting in. Melissa, couldn’t believe it, nor could she stop the tears from rolling down her face.
She knew that the “look” he was referring to was the same look and reason her mom told her to get a relaxer. Even though Melissa is still working at the firm, I think that incident dimmed her light a little bit. Soon after, she also go a relaxer. She told me that she loved her natural hair, but she simply loved her career more.
Ashley Elaine Plummer says
We as balck people need to learn how to read between the lines. Her hair was not the reason she didn’t get the partnership it was just the reason they used because it was available. We must stop waiting for corporate america and the man to give us what we feel we deserve because as we have seen that almost never happens. They still see us as free labor even if you are getting paid it is never your worth. We have not put ourselves in a position to change corporate America so you have to play by their rules. Its not right but thats what bkack chose by not getting our own and waiting for them to give us something.
How sad. Why not just blow out or press? Screw the damaging relaxer! There are generations of black women with short, thin hair because of the damage relaxers did to them growing up.
Anna Marie Carter says
Open your own law firm.
Stop trying to fit in.
I agree with your comment you need to set up your own law firm, start your business plan, keep it to yourself until your ready to share with an adviser, seek funding from reliable sources. You can do this, your ready.
If Melissa’s hair was an issue, then she would not have been offered a position at the law firm, much less a second interview. Plus, they had already made up their mind to promote the other woman, and used Melissa’s hair as an excuse.
I have a friend who is also a Harvard Law graduate. She is at a firm in another city. She wears a short afro and has not experienced this ridiculous racism. She should find a new firm.
Michelle Freeman says
I agree. I think that they had already intended to give the other woman the job, Melissa’s hair had nothing to do with it.
Keela Butler says
Sad but no surprise.
Lorraine Hillhouse says
How is her hair going to stop her from doing her job – would she have got it if she went bald, and do the white partners not have their natural hair?
Johari Kafi says
Too bad some people don’t know how to make natural hair cooperate friendly.
Les Marie says
Tell her to prepare for her own firm and rival their ass
Imogene Clark Reddick says
The devil will keep trying but it won’t work.
Cynthia Idemudia says
Cynthia Jones Goings says
This is unfortunate. I am a VP in a very large company and I’m natural. I recognize what and when I have to “make my hair less intimidating”. What I mean is when I have big meetings and conferences with CEOs etc. a low slick, smooth bun is what I wear. Sometimes we have to recognize who “holds the money” and if we are trying to get some, we may have to flexible.
Ibijoke Akinbode says
Could this be true?
Tarshia Davis says
Bet she the best lawyer there
Michelle Denice Hop says
Sue for racial discrimination.
Laura Marie says
He said it was her look. That could be her hair or the way she dresses etc. Not saying that make it right regardless but I think it’s an assumption to say that it was because of her hair