Yet another black woman is facing employment woes because of her hair. But, it’s not for the usual afro or braids. This time, 20-year-old Akua Agyemfra was fired from a position as a server for wearing her natural tresses in a bun. Yes, a bun!
An assistant manager at Toronto-based Jack Astor Bar & Grill fired Akua on her third day of training for not wearing her hair “down” (read: straight). She said she was “embarrassed” after having to take her hair out in front of other co-workers to show that her hair could not lay down without being processed.
Akua, who said she takes “pride in her natural hair”, was then sent home. Though the manager maintains she was following company policy, Jack Astor’s national marketing manager Kathryn Long told CBC waitresses could wear their hair down or in a “stylish up-do”.
Ak said she has no plans to return to the restaurant and shared this Facebook message, she shared the following, in part, with CBC News.
“I know most black women at restaurants are forced to wear wigs or weaves or extensions, or are forced to straighten their hair everyday. Don’t get me wrong, I think extensions look great. I’ve been wearing them ever since I was a little girl. I love when I get my braids. It’s the protective style I choose and works for me. But why am I scrutinized when I decide to to take them out? That’s not fair.”
“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.”
We understand that certain jobs require certain hairstyles for safety and health considerations. But, at what point does this type of story just stop happening? And what makes it even more outraging is that “natural” hair has been a beauty trend for the past couple of years amongst not-so kinky haired individuals. So, why are we as Black women still being shamed – and fired – for it?