Six Flags: Discriminating Against People With Dreadlocks

MarKeese says Six Flags wouldn’t hire her because it has a policy that deems dreadlocks — like those worn by MarKeese and many African-Americans — “unprofessional.”

Our hair is naturally course, naturally big, and naturally Beautiful! 

How I wear my hair is my PREROGATIVE and I will not allow it to be a question of my professionalism!

We are not inadequate and MUST let go of our deepest fears! 

The time has ended that we must hide our natural beauty and shrink  OUR DIVINE PRESENCE so that others won’t feel insecure around us! —Diane V. Boone

There’s a new petition gaining attention:  Started by: MarKeese Warner, Bladensburg, Maryland

Like many students across the country, I have been looking for a summer job before I start my senior year at Pennsylvania State University where I’m studying engineering. As I’m living at home in Maryland for the summer, I thought working at the nearby Six Flags would be a great summer job. I’ve been going to Six Flags with my family for years and have even had season passes on occasion, so I applied for a food service job. However, as I started to go through the interview process, I was disturbed to find out that I couldn’t work at Six Flags because of the texture of my hair. Six Flags has a strict policy that prohibits employees from having dreadlocks (or “locks” as some people call them) as they classify them as an “extreme”hairstyle along with mohawks and unnatural coloring.

Locks are predominantly worn by African-American, Caribbean and African people as an expression of how our hair grows naturally. My hair is important to me and part of who I am. I’ve had locks for about five years. Being disqualified as a potential employee because of my hair made me feel defeated; as my hair is representation of my personal growth through the years. It hurts to hear major employers like Six Flags call my natural hair and texture “extreme.” Unfortunately, throughout history, many people have demonized locks.

It is disparaging for Six Flags to accept substantial amounts of money every year at their parks across the United States, Mexico and Canada from patrons who wear their hair as it grows naturally, but the company would refuse to hire any of those patrons with locks. We spend way too much money at places like Six Flags Theme Parks for them to discriminate against any members of our community. Let us also exercise our voice with our dollars.

There is no excuse in 2012 for such abhorrent employment policies. In a time when the “voice of the people” can indeed be witnessed to move mountains, let us in one accord raise our voice. In a country that purports itself to be the greatest “melting pot” of social values and ideals, it’s time for Six Flags to stop its discriminatory policy by categorically refusing to employ people because of their natural hair. Please join me in asking Six Flags to stop discriminating against people with locks.

Six Flags invoked a policy that states: ‘Six Flags enforces a conservative grooming policy across all parks. The policy does not permit certain hair styles such as variations in colors, dreadlocks, partically shaved heads, tails, and hairstyles that impair vision.Braided hair is allowed but must be in neat, even rows without beads or other adornments.  (accusation of something other than neat and dictating how to wear hair that is clearly an Afrocentric style)

A spokesperson for the American Civil Liberties Union believes that defining locked hair as “inherently unprofessional” is racially insensitive at best — and potentially discriminatory at worst.

The ACLU says it had similar inquiries about Six Flags Largo’s dreadlocks policy in 2006. Even in 2010, with an African American president, Six Flags is not the first corporate company to do this, and, sadly, probably won’t be the last.

In 2000, Federal Express Corporation, better known as FedEx, fired several of its New York employees who refused to cut their dreadlocks. The employees cited religious expression, but FedEx showed them the door. In 2006, FedEx reached a settlement that included recognizing dreadlocks worn for religious reasons.

Sign my petition.

In North America, it is the right of an employer to enforce grooming standards that comply with the image the company wants to portray to the public, including long hair for men, shaved heads and colorful hair. The law will typically land on the side of on an employer if the hairstyle is being worn for fashionable reasons as opposed to religious ones. Do you think it’s fair to discriminate against employees for the hairstyles they wear, particularly natural styles like braids, shaved heads and dreadlocks?


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