MBA Student Denied Access To Academic Conference Because Of His Hair

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Well here we go again! How many times have thought that finally hair discrimination is over but it has become apparent that we still have more work to do?

Tamon George is a MBA student and the President of the Graduate Student Government Association of the District of Columbia and he was denied admission to the Thurgood Marshall College Fund Leadership Institute because of his locs. He said:

On October 7th, I was accepted to attend the Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) – Leadership Institute. The conference, comprised of approximately 500 of the brightest students from the 47 HBCUs, is scheduled to take place in Washington, D.C. November 9-13, 2014. The goal of this conference is to provide students with leadership training and job and internship opportunities with many of the nation’s Fortune 500 companies. Based on my academic, extracurricular activities, leadership roles and strong professional decorum, I was deemed qualified to attend the conference. After my acceptance, I was then informed that I had been disqualified based on my physical appearance.

By physical appearance they meant his hair and lets be clear this is not the typical ‘white institution’ that we tend to see as the main subject in these cases. This is an established non profit organization that supports students who attend as many as 47 public HCBUs in this country. Tamon believed that the extent of their influence as well as their view on educational equality would have extended to something as simple as his hair, but he found that it was not the case.

According to Tamon:

I was informed that The Thurgood Marshall College Fund has instituted a ban of “Dreadlocks” for male participants of the conference. Thus, my invitation to attend the conference would be contingent upon the removal of my hair. Given that I wear my hair in the same manner as my father – serving as a representation of my cultural identity, heritage, and spirit, I feel it is highly discriminatory and sexist to make such a ruling.


I do not believe the organization is sexist but I do believe that this is highly discriminatory and shameful considering there are many people in this country who wear their hair in locs based on cultural and religious orientation. To be honest their response is not surprising especially if you look at the simplest of discriminatory scenarios we deal with daily amongst our own communities.

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About Petra


Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

About Petra


Hi I'm Petra Lomax , a staff writer and editor for BlackHairInformation.com . I am Jamaican born and raised and moved to the United States in my early 20's. I have a BA in Political Science and International relations as well as an MBA and a Masters In Project Management. I love travel, culture and anything that has to do with creative media and business.

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Comments

  1. Shynisha Jay
    Shynisha Jay

    Wow! As a MBA student, this is really disheartening. His hair looks neat and groomed. There is absolutely no excuse for him not being allowed to attend an academic conference…the Thurgood Marshall Leadership Institute at that! We can be so discriminatory towards our own people. It’s just sad!

  2. Tasha Thomas
    Tasha Thomas

    That’s bs. Plus this event is for students from 47 HBCUs, now you know that’s a shame. It’s neat, what if he’s Rastafarian and they did this?

  3. Rivian Jones
    Rivian Jones

    We have more pressing issues in the Black community then this. Ppl are getting abused and killed over there skin color and y’all are up in arms over some hair smh.

    1. Leone Ross
      Leone Ross

      It is part of the same continuum of oppression, prejudice, lack of respect, historical and contemporary hatred and self-hatred…

    2. Rivian Jones
      Rivian Jones

      Which battle is more important? There is a video up on my FB right now of a little girl crying her eyes out. Want to know why? Kid’s at school told her they didn’t wabt to be friends with her because she is black. Who battle is more important?

    3. Tiavia Nelson Fields
      Tiavia Nelson Fields

      Why do you think people aren’t allowed to be concerned about more than one thing? I am capable of being disgusted by this story and the stories featuring Innocent people being shot by police. One may be more Important than the other but both need to be addressed

    4. Rivian Jones
      Rivian Jones

      @tiavia First of all I wish ppl would stop focusing on police, because Darren Wilson did what a lot of officer’s would have if attacked. Secondly your a individual care about whatever you would like. I will say this though seeming as women on this page have divided over hair texture, I kind of feel like the pot is calling the kettle black with some of you. I mean the same negativity that was done to this Man by other black ppl, is the same negativity that goes on in these post. I mean and when it starts happening I see a small group of natural and relaxed women trying to restore peace. So let’s talk about that why we are on this topic.

    5. Andrea Caldwell
      Andrea Caldwell

      Well, You ARE commenting on a HAIR blog. Move on to the “more pressing issues” if the discussion is not for you. Ijs

    6. Natalie Clark
      Natalie Clark

      This is where the slippery slope begins. I understand your concern that larger issues are looming. And this is a piece of the larger very important issue.

    7. Tamika Reese
      Tamika Reese

      She lost me sounds like she wants to be seen or start a debate about what is more important we are all different so different things effect us smh

  4. Sandra Brooks
    Sandra Brooks

    Sucks for the people in that event. The universe didn’t want him to grace that place with his presence. He probably had an idea one of those people would of stolen.

  5. Thedra Renee White
    Thedra Renee White

    Rivian Jones it’s more than just hair it’s folks not accepting our heritage,my friend was told that her hair is holding her back now she is willing to change it so she can get ahead, next they will tell her that her big butt is distracting and she needs to downsize it, there is not a latter big enough in this world to change me for white America , I love my big,lips ,butt and my natural hair It’s about them accepting who we are

  6. Korle Menegbo
    Korle Menegbo

    Tamon don’t give up on what you want, you don’t go around telling anyone how to wear their hair. And no one should ask that of you, instead of praising you for your drive talent, and educational achievement. They make it about something that shouldn’t be an issue, your hair.

  7. Lovely Gettnit
    Lovely Gettnit

    I just don’t understand what hair really has to do with the whole experience in the first place smh

  8. Wendy Gray
    Wendy Gray

    Bea Donna can you believe this in 2014 and at an organization bearing Thurgood Marshall’s name…. Sharon

    1. Sharon L. Bryant
      Sharon L. Bryant

      I just don’t understand this type of craziness. There are real problems in the world. Why would this org be engaged in hair policing? Embarrassed for them.

    2. Donna Emm Ell
      Donna Emm Ell

      That is sad, but I was not surprised. Some of the most judgmental on the hair issue have been black people. I once heard Steve Harvey say he told his son he couldn’t wear locs because when he looked around he didn’t see lawyers (I guess the son wants to be a lawyer) with locs. The hair bias is real, and strong.

  9. Sharee Brinson
    Sharee Brinson

    What the big fucking deal about his hair. He got it nicely put up. Samething happen at a guy at my job

  10. Jasmin Reynolds
    Jasmin Reynolds

    This sounds just like my brother story except he couldn’t join his high school baseball team because he had dreadlocks. His coach wanted him to cut them off but my brother refused.

  11. Precious

    I’m not sure why you said that you don’t view the organisation as sexist. If they’ve banned locs for male participants that is sexist. Furthermore, I’m shocked by the direct discrimination as it breaches all kinds of anti discrimination legislation. Usually institutionalised racism and sexism is indirect so that they don’t open themselves up to a civil suit. And this happened in Washington where the Black president lives? That’s crazy. I hope Tamon demands answers as rules ( such as this) which disproportionately affect predominantly black people’s ability to participate in education or the workforce are illegal. I don’t know why an organisation comprised of the brightest people wouldn’t know that?

    1. Precious

      I always thought that the ppl who hate our hair do because they can’t wear their hair in the same styles and it look so good. Jealousy. We can wear ours a different style 365 days a year if we want. The Caucasian people I know are limited to 1-5 styles a year if they’re lucky. White people don’t want to be upstaged at work or threatened by our beautiful hair they’d much prefer us to conform so they can feel safe. An even better trick is to try and get us to hate our own hair, to believe it stops us from being successful when the simple truth is they can’t handle being upstaged.

  12. Precious

    I’m sorry I didn’t mean to post so many times, I wasn’t sure if the comment went through. I found more to the legality of this if anyone is interested:
    ”Acting Dean of the School of Business and Public Administration at the University of the District of Columbia, Sandra Grady Yates, EdD showed her disdain in an electronic communication sent to President Taylor. An insight into that communication revealed she stated, “TMCF’s ‘policy’ of ‘no dreadlocks for males,’ announced in Mr. Lilly’s email is discriminatory on the basis of personal appearance and gender and – on its face – violates the DC Human Rights Act. See DC Code 2-1401.01 et seq.” However, the president did not stand moved by his decision at all. In fact he replied in a response, “While I respect your feelings about the TMCF Leadership Institute policy, we stand by our decision to prohibit Leadership Institute participants from wearing dreadlocks at the conference (unless the dreadlocks are maintained as part of a sincerely held religious belief).” Even though he states, unless the dreadlocks are held as a religious belief, no official from TMCF ever reached out to either of these men to determine if perhaps their dreadlocks were associated with or maintained as a part of a sincerely held religious belief!”

  13. Charlene Lakeyshia Townsend
    Charlene Lakeyshia Townsend

    Seeing that he has neat and groomed hair in this photo leads me to believe that’s bullshit! Hair doesn’t define anyone! Look how Albert Einsteins hair was, looked like he hadn’t combed it in forever. Lol! Gotta call b.s. On this one!!

    1. Precious

      That is so true. Gosh you just reminded me of when I wore cornrows to my new school in England age 11 and this crusty old white male teacher said something and I said it’s my culture – he told me to take my culture somewhere else. Meanwhile the social class 5 white kids whose parents never combed their hair could come to school any kind of way and spread nits and that would be just fine. Lol. It’s shocking even in post modernity how backwards our institutions are. The personal is political and the politics of hair is most worthy of our attention because oppression is insidious. They would love us all to believe ‘it’s just hair’ nothing racist or particularly important.. Afterall. ”The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist.”

  14. Tanya Ramsey-Levine
    Tanya Ramsey-Levine

    They already think we are stupid..first lets make sure we can spell—-CONFERENCE!!

    Second, it doesn’t matter as long as he was a NICELY GROOMED MAN he should have been allowed into the conference.

  15. Nichelle Eggleston
    Nichelle Eggleston

    Sad! Because we are more than just out hair and attending a conference on academics proves this.

    Sends a wrong message!

  16. Teannae Miller
    Teannae Miller

    This makes me sick. Our culture should be recognized for everything not just what “white society majority” sees as appropriate. It was a conference for goodness sake!

  17. Tabatha

    I’m an MBA student and that is so darn sad! Unless they put something out ahead of time about what people should look like then they should have allowed him to come. His hair looks well kept. I could understand if it looks “old and had an odor ” to it, but clearly that is not the case with him. I would love for someone with dreads, locs, braids what have you open up a business and then say no to those with fades and high and tights, and relaxed hair. Then they will see the absurdity behind not getting an opportunity because of how you wear your hair. That’s just dumb. This dude could have the know how to make companies sore to great heights and they won’t even know it because they are hung up on his hair. Have I mentioned that this is dumb?

  18. Sasha Tajaré

    For real??? Like, have they not listened and learned ANYTHING from India Arie’s song “I Am Not My Hair”!??!? Apparently not..that’s just plain malarkey…smh.

  19. PrincessRockie

    Its unfortunate that this young man suffered from this institution’s ignorance. To think that the whole purpose of HBCUs is to teach us about ourselves and cultural appreciation. Yet, they would have the gaul to do the exact thing they were created to fight against, discrimination… Go figure… Sometimes, we can be our own worst enemy and those stuffy suit and tie negros continuously white wash themselves instead of opening their eyes to what’s really going on…

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