I've spoken briefly about the time that I was fired from my job for my hair. During this "Blessed" post, I want to explain to you in more detail what actually happened. This whole experience taught me to trust my gut and my instincts. I won't share the company name or the names of the people involved because I've moved on to bigger and better. Still, I hope sharing this story will give you insight on why it's so important to, as Jewel says, "follow your heart; your intuition."
Sorry....I had to! "It will lead you in the right direction!"...okay moving on!
The day was Monday August 22, 2016. I walked into work early, rocking bantu knots and straight feeling myself. I was on a high from a great weekend. That Saturday I had watched Adele perform at the Staples Center and was reborn. That Sunday, I woke up and just as I've described in previous posts, I cleaned my home from top to bottom, made a bomb as Sunday Dinner, and stayed up until wee hours in the morning to put in my bantu knots. I was feeling good because Adele, duh, and wanted to look as good as I felt.
So, I was high on life when I arrived at work on Monday. My boss was in a meeting when I arrived, so I put my things at my desk and went to the kitchen to put on some coffee. I worked in a very small office. It was just my boss and I. Her office was in between the kitchen and my desk. I made my french vanilla roast coffee and then proceeded to walk back to my desk to get to work. Just as soon as I sat my coffee down on my desk, before I could even turn on my computer, my boss called me into her office.
When I sat down at her desk opposite her, she proceeded to tell me that my hair was inappropriate. She said that it was too loud and that I would need to change it before coming back to work the next day. I was shocked! For starters, this wasn't my first time rocking bantu knots. I had rocked them at work just 2 months prior (see below) to this conversation and my boss was so in love. She even asked me how she can learn to do them herself so she can give her half black niece the same hair do.
I told her that I took offense to her comments. She looked me dead in my eyes and said she thought I would but the company had standards. She told me that she would speak to her supervisor and that we would all have a conversation about it later that afternoon.
I posted a quick Instagram post (1st photo above) about the incident and moved on with my day. My boss' supervisor came and worked out of our office later that afternoon. There was never a discussion.
Later that evening, way after I had left work, I got a call from my temp agency. They said they had received a call from my employer about my hair. This person, stated that even thought they haven't seen the hairstyle themselves, it would be best for me to change it. They then proceeded to tell me that the company I was working for was very upscale and expected their employees to look and act with poise and elegance. If I didn't change my hair I may not be able to work there any longer. I tried to get them to say the actual words, but they just continued to dance around the subject. Basically, if I didn't come into work with my knots taken out the next day, I would be fired.
It was at that moment, that I felt the first twinge in my gut. I knew this whole situation was fucked up and there wasn't any real way they could force me to change my hair without expecting a long and drawn out lawsuit. But I ignored it. I ignored it because I loved that job. I was making a lot of money and if I played my cards right, I could get hired on and be making 6 figures in less than five years. They had already made previous offers to hire me on. It was the perfect job to work while taking care of Lee and then nurturing and building my career.
Had I chose to listen to my gut, I would have kept my hair the same. My job would have either dealt with it or fired me resulting in an easy peasy 123 and done lawsuit. But because I chose to ignore my instincts, I changed my hair. Not only that, when I changed my hair I couldn't help but to change my attitude as well.
For those of you wondering, my boss was Hispanic and her supervisor was Caucasian. They could never understand the issues I have been through surrounding my hair. My hair has been a source of name calling, bullying, and eventually insecurities since I was a kid. It took me a long time, a big chop, and travelling to the other side of the world for me to even learn how to take care of my hair on my own.
Not only that, but my hair is all natural. I rarely add heat to it. I don't perm it anymore. Any African American woman with natural hair can tell you it takes a lot to maintain our hair. At the time this was happening, I was tired of rocking my puff and wanted to give my head a break. Bantu knots take hours to put in, but they last for a long time. As I explained to my boss the first time I wore the hairstyle, bantu knots aren't even the hairstyle I was going for.
I was actually doing a knot out. Basically, when I unravel the knots, my hair wold be in cute tight spiral curls that are so versatile and last for at least 10 days. I could rock the knots for 2 days, than take them out and where a full curly head for 3 days. Then I could pin-up one side for few days, then pin the other side and rock a faux-hawk for a few days. It was perfect and actually looked good on me.
So when my job rejected the hairstyle so strongly it brought up a lot of shit. I'm talking I was literally sitting there yanking these knots out of my head while ugly crying and sobbing. When I woke up in the morning I was pissed off. And I carried that anger with me into work. I slicked my hair back as smooth as I could get it and for the next three weeks I wore nothing but a suit and heels to work. My office had marble floors and I would stump around as hard as I could in my heels.
Again, my gut told me to cool it and get over it. I was out of control and if I continued I would still get fired, but for good reason. I even wrote a facebook update about the situation clearly pointing out this fact. But I was young, ignorant on how to handle the situation, and angry as hell. So again, I ignored my instincts.
I filed a report with the company's HR department where I said I didn't want to get anyone in trouble, I just wanted to be able to wear my hair how I wanted. The HR rep came back to me 2 weeks later stating that neither my boss or her supervisor broke any rules. They said that although the company's rules do not specify what an inappropriate hairstyle is, the discretion is left up to the supervisor to judge. The rep, my boss, her supervisor and the regional supervisor got together and they all agreed that the hairstyle was inappropriate and I wouldn't be able to wear it. This just pissed me off even more.
Meanwhile, I started making mistakes. I began falling behind in my work, my boss was irritated but professional, but it was getting harder and harder for me to hide how pissed I was. After a while my boss started asking me how I did the things I did that made me irreplaceable to the company. She asked me how I made my bomb as fliers and I showed her canva. She asked me about the password to the Instagram account I had created for the company. She asked me about every thing I did that added value to my position. Each time my gut tried to warn me that something was up. But I didn't listen. Although I was pissed, I still wanted to find a way to rectify this situation.
HR called me and told me the results of my complaint on Friday September 2nd. I was pissed, but that weekend I decided to grow up and live with the decision I made to change my hair. I was no longer pissed that I changed my hair. I was upset because in doing so, I felt like I had given a way a piece of myself for money and I resented my boss for that. But she didn't make that decision, I did. So, I needed to come to terms with the consequences...I know better now...but at the time, I thought this was best..
That next week was a 4 day work week. Monday was labor day. Tuesday is when my boss started asking me how I did things. Friday my gut went into overload three times. Still, I ignored it and continued about my day. I had tickets for fifth harmony that night and wanted to let go of all the negative emotions I was feeling about this situation and just move on.
The first pang in my gut came when my boss decided to leave early for her lunch, just when I usually leave. Not only that, she took our only employee, who could cover my desk for me while I went to lunch, with her and didn't tell me. In a series of unfortunate events, I called the employee and told him to watch the front and left. I didn't wait for his response.
My heart dramatically skipped a beat later on that day, when that same employee looked me in my eyes as he left for the day. Instead of saying his normal goodbye he said, "Let me know if I can help you with ANYTHING!"
Finally, I felt a lump in my throat when my boss told me to leave my computer at work that weekend as they needed to do some maintenance on our entire system. This had never been done before. So to get rid of the "shits about to hit the fan feeling" in my stomach I emailed our tech guy and asked him when he would be done with the maintenance. Instead of a response from him, my boss asked me why it was such a burden for me to leave my computer at work over the weekend. This felt all wrong, but I naively pushed it away.
My boss left work at 5. I had a couple of hours until my concert, so I decided to stay at work and get some things done. I just so happened to check my personal email and noticed an email from my temp agency. My stomach dropped. I called my agency and they proceeded to tell me that I had just finished my last day with the company. To prove their point, while I was on the phone, our tech guy proceeded to remotely lock me out of my computer. I never made it to the concert.
That weekend, I was forced to deal with the signs that my gut had been pointing out to me all along. I realized that had I listened to just one of the signs, the situation would have come out slightly better than it had. But I couldn't dwell in the past. I needed to find a job.
If you follow Phorbe on Instagram, you know how the rest of the story goes. I found another job in the same field the following Wednesday. I started Thursday. Thursday night I got a call from another position in a different field but one of the top companies in the country. I interviewed over the phone, did some testing that night and got hired the next day for $3/hour more than I was making before. The catch was, that job was a 2 week temp position that had a very slim chance of me becoming permanent. The job I had started the day before was permanent but $4/hour less than what I was making before. My gut told me to take a leap of faith and for the first time, I listened. I went with the 2 week temp job that ended up lasting for exactly 6 months before I decided to quit and pursue Phorbe.
In the end, things went exactly how they should have gone. I needed to get "fired" to learn the lesson that it is vital, sometimes to your well being, for you to not only trust your gut, be be loyal to your gut.
Queens, the same power that allowed Moses to part the red sea, or Joseph the vision to interpret dreams, the same power that rose Jesus from the dead lives in all of us. When your instincts start tingling, that's God trying to tell you something, your spirit guides trying to warn you, your inner voice screaming what you are too afraid to think or speak out loud. Your gut is never wrong. It is there to guide and protect you. What it tells you to do may be uncomfortable but in the long run, it's a lot less uncomfortable than if you don't listen.
Listen to your instincts and follow their directions. Think of your gut as your compass on your journey to success. Let it guide you to victory.
It's a beautiful day to conquer the world Queens. So, go forth, follow your instincts, and conquer!
P.S: I would say to anyone going through this same situation at work right now, do not change your hair. If you don't change your hair and they fire you, you have a clear and easy discrimination case to win. If you do decide to change your hair decide first whether or not your going to fight the system that's preventing you from wearing your hair the way you want to. If you're going to fight then fight. If you'r not going to fight it then you need to be willing to let the situation go when you let the hairstyle go. Whatever you decide, it's time to start looking for a new job because the company you work for does not respect you enough for you to continue working for them.
ORIGINALLY POSTED ON AUGUST 22, 2018