“I lost my job because I braided my hair”: Woman shares her own experience with discrimination

Patrícia Santos de Jesus in 2005
Patrícia Santos de Jesus in 2005

Note from BW of Brazil: The issue of hair is a common theme on this blog. And it will continue to be an issue as long as the world continues to operate under a European aesthetic standard. Past posts have featured an intern who was aggressively threatened by her director, a young woman who was denied entry into her school, as well as various women who came to accept themselves the way they were (here, here and here). All of those posts were related to the question of hair. Here, Patrícia Santos de Jesus describes her own experience with discrimination due to her chosen hairstyle not fitting into the “accepted” standard. 

I lost my job because I braided my hair.

I braided my hair in 2005, it was the first time I put braids in (photo). I was super happy and excited. At the time was I the training coordinator for a company incubated within USP (University of São Paulo).

I went to work and my colleagues were ecstatic with my look and it was one them that took this photo. The climate in the company was one of curiosity and compliments about my ancestry and culture until our director arrived. As usual, when she arrived the climate changed completely and in front of my coworkers, she began to say that the hair was not adequate for the corporate environment, which was absurd in relation to the company’s culture, which was anti-corporate, and that I was should take the braids out in order to not jeopardize the company’s image with clients (among other things she said that I don’t even remember) that this type of hair showed disorganization. At the time I said I would not take the braids out and that I remained the same professional as before. After the lunch break, she (the director) called me into a private room and said she was firing me for not being more in line with the aesthetic standards of the company and she thought it was absurd that I did not accept her orders.

Patrícia Santos de Jesus with husband Luiz
Patrícia Santos de Jesus with husband Luiz

I signed the paper; I didn’t manage to say anything at the time and I simply walked away. Sad, frustrated, feeling humiliated, as if my competence, expertise and responsibility were not worth anything. I was responsible for a team of 6 professionals, had just graduated, worked hard, dedicated myself and it was all thrown away at the time. Regrettable. At the time I didn’t know Dr. Carmem Dora nor did I imagine doing what she did. Luiz, my boyfriend at the time and today my husband, at the time was so disgusted, he even advised me to seek professional help, a lawyer, but I let it go.

The story was published in the magazine Raça Brasil in December of 2005.

Today I advise and even seek out expert help in really punishing the harassing and racist morals of the job market

True story of Patrícia Santos de Jesus.

Creator of the Programa de Ação Afirmativa para o Mercado de Trabalho Empregue Afro (Affirmative Action Program for the Afro Employment Job Market)


About Marques Travae 3747 Articles
Marques Travae. For more on the creator and editor of BLACK WOMEN OF BRAZIL, see the interview here.

1 Comment

  1. This is terrible and so sad. It is because of things like this that I truly think racial integration with Whites/non-Blacks is not a good thing for Black women & girls. But on the flip side, in all-Black societies, the hatred and abuse of Black women & girls is awful. Hated/abused by Whites, hated abused by Black males, what are Blackk women & girls to do? Where do they go to be respected, loved and treated well?

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