Natural black hair is having a long-awaited public moment (shoutout to Maria Borges for rocking the first natural hair in the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in November). But outside the modeling world, women of color continue to face discrimination for wearing their hair in its natural state. Now one woman is speaking out against her former employer after she was fired for wearing her natural hair in a bun.
Akua Agyemfra told Canada’s CBC that her manager at Jack Astor’s, a restaurant chain in Toronto, insisted that all female servers must wear their hair down, even though Agyemfra’s natural hair doesn’t fall straight.
Agyemfra, 20, was on day three of employee training when she was told about the company’s policy, she says. “Management at Jack Astor’s did NOT specify that I had to wear my hair down every single shift. If they did, I would have NOT taken the job because I know my hair cannot be straight everyday. I had extensions during my interview and my two training shifts. After I took out my braids, my Afro didn’t not comply to the ‘straight hair’ rule. To maintain it and look presentable, I had to put it in a bun,” Agyemfra wrote in a post on Facebook. “I’m not going to compromise my roots and edges because my employer wants me to. My scalp has a right to breathe just as much as the woman standing beside me,” she told CBC.
Now Agyemfra’s experience is rallying others who have faced the same discrimination, both on her Facebook feed and in interviews for the news station. It’s a situation that pops up with alarming regularity, most recently with the school suspension of a group of girls in the Bahamas simply for wearing their hair naturally — echoing the threatened expulsion of a girl from her private Florida school in 2014 — which inspired a viral hashtag, #SupportThePuff.
As Madam Noire notes about Agyemfra’s firing, “The hate against natural hair is real y’all.”