Why Does Hampton University Dread Locs? Business School Bans Cornrows and Dreadlocks For Male Students

August 23, 2012  |  

Say it ain’t so!

It’s so.

It seems that in order to get through the business school’s five year MBA program, male students have to ditch the cornrow look and even locs. According to the ABC affiliate in Virginia, the dean of the business school in Hampton, Sid Credle, stands by the ban, which started in 2001, and says by having it, more of his students have been able to land real world jobs they’ve studied hard for. “We’ve been very successful. We’ve placed more than 99 percent of the students who have graduated from this school, this program.” A spokesperson for the school by the name of Naima Ford also said, “These students choose to be in this program and aspire to be leaders in the business world.  We model these students after the top African-Americans in the business world.”

In their minds, including Credle’s specifically, those clocking major figures and making the big decisions in the corporate world are not touting locs down their backs or Allen Iverson-esque braids in funky designs. Instead, they’re clean cut and have an even cleaner image.

“What we do is pay tribute to that image and say those are your role models. This is a way you will look when you become president. If you’re going to play baseball, you wear baseball uniforms. If you’re going to play tennis, your wear tennis uniform.  Well you’re playing that business.”

Whether or not people are mad about the ban doesn’t matter to him, his main goal is to get his students the jobs they seek, once they get it, they can do whatever they want. While representatives for the business school stand by the ban hardcore, students at the school are very heated by the decision, including incoming freshman Uriah Bethea, who says he would just find a new major before he compromised hair for a program (he wears locs by the way): “I don’t think it should matter what the hairstyle.  It’s my life. I should be able to do whatever I want to do.”

He can do whatever he likes, but if he wants to enroll in the business school’s MBA program, not so much.

When I first heard this story, all I could think to say was “WOW!” It’s beyond crazy to me that a historically black university would be so excited to tell people that India Arie was wrong, and that you are indeed your hair. Skip your hard earned grades, experience and work ethic, sir, to finish a degree and get yourself a 9-5 and 401k, your hair has to be as tame and conformist as possible. In this day and age, I know it’s harder than ever to lock down a good job, but do you really want to work at a place where someone would base what you’re capable of off of what’s on the top of your head? This school should let these men find out for themselves if the business world is a friendly place for natural hair and eclectic hairstyles on their own and allow them at the moment to focus more on their studies and less on their locks. But that’s just my opinion.

Would you cut your hair if your area of studies required it?

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  • TrulyBlack

    If someone told me to take out my braids for work, even though I just spent £30 to £50 getting them, I’d agree, only if they pay me the price I got them, coz im not taking it out for free!

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  • J’aime Sucer

    i have worked for 3 large US corporations. Males with dreds were employed, but they mostly worked in the mailroom or maintenance related jobs. Zero in mid-upper management.

  • Oh by the way not only am i a dread head but i play semi pro football a 10 electrician yearly income 44,000, and in the progress of getting my book published.

  • empress123

    My uncle is a rastafarian who passed the bar on his first try in NYC and has never had a problem getting a job. His locs are not twisted to perfection either! Some Black people are afraid to stand up for themselves and will conform just to fit in. For those Blacks HAMPTON IS YOUR SCHOOL. Let them keep their rule it just means a smaller pool of black intellectuals who will apply to their school. In other words THEIR LOSS! We all know that there are many intelligent blacks who prefer to be natural and many hoodrat and thugs who prefer weaves, waves and tight line ups. Take your pick

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  • Kenneth Wesley Livingston

    FLASH: I totally support the Hampton decision. Students? Welcome to the real world. Your ideologies spell your own defeat before you set a foot in the door. This is a battle you cannot win in the hiring process. 1969 I became the 2nd AA to serve as a national officer for the American Bible Society in its 134 yr history. Because of a severe shaving problem I wanted desperately to grow a beard.(Years later, age 34, an AA dermatologist advised just that, and I have had it ever since. I am now 72) 1968, age 29, I knew that I didn’t have that option. In the era of the Black Panther Party and other self-styled militants, my facial hair would have been threatening to the big donors with whom I lunched: J.C.Penney, et al.You do what you have to do TO SURVIVE in Corporate America and, more importantly, pave the way for the younger brothers who wish to come successfully through the same doors. And that’s the way it is!
    Kenneth W. Livingston

  • llcj

    The keyword is “advise” not mandate. If you [dean], and/or your academic program have certain views about a matter, your role as “educators” is to advise the students, not mandate them to conform.

  • Brotherw/locs

    Obviously some of you have never seen a professional businessman with well kempt locs before?!

    I’m a Texas native who lives in DC and I’ve had corporate jobs in both, the District and in Texas. In DC, it is more common. Texas is where you would think it would have been a problem, but I was able to garner employment with ease.

    Have these people never been to
    DC, Chicago, NYC, etc. where brothers are shaking and moving with their well kempt

    I’ve been growing my locs for over six years now, and I don’t have any plans to conform, I mean cut, my hair anytime in the near future.

  • I think as long as all students are asked to do the equivalent it is fine

  • KieShi

    if we okay this then whats next. you’ll have to keep your NATURAL hair color. women wont be able to go natural and curly. you’ll HAVE to hair your hair permed? If they want to rock locs and have a more difficult time finding a job that is THEIR choice no SCHOOL should be able to Mandate them to cut them off. that’s whats wrong about it. you can talk to them, tell them to cons and pros but in the end ones hair should be their own choice. there are a lot of things that make it hard to find a job, being over weight, is one, are they going to MAKE you be a size 10 or 6 NO! they shouldn’t be able to FORCE someone to cut their Locs off. It is a LIFE choice and takes MANY years and money to grow them! WHITE america needs to get over themselves and step into the 21st century and learn this is what WE really look like and STOP trying to make us look like them SO THEY can feel comfortable and WE need to stop laying down and allowing them to stick it up our back side with a smile!!!

  • My friend is a premire lawyer at one of the most wealthy, well-known, mostly white firms in Cleveland. She has long, neatly kempt afro-locs. Very beautiful. They had ZERO hesitation asking her to be a
    paid intern and ZERO hesitation asking her to come on board, even when they found out she was pregnant.

    Oh and BTW she went to HOWARD. So as a Hamptonian, THIS is embarrassing as hell.This rule was instated in 2001, and it was kind of like our “dirty little secret”.The Hampton University Script did an article about it then, and Hamptonians who were attending at the time have always been very vocal about their disdain for this ban. Who is the person who dredged up this old “news”? I suppose it’s news to people who didn’t attend between 2001-now
    …Either way, locs are NOT an “extreme” hairstyle. it is an ETHNIC hairstyle. We as black people shoot ourselves in the foot saying we want “progress” but instead of demanding that people respect us because we are different, we’d rather assimilate to a white standard of beauty. THAT’S the root of this “rule”. And it disgusts me.

    Someone responded to me on a fellow Alumna’s page:” It’s really not that serious. Just as you make the personal choice to attend Hampton…you make the personal choice whether to adjust your hairstyle for your school or not adjust your hairstyle and either major in something else or leave. Same with your job.”

    I say indeed it IS “that serious” because we are the leaders of Black America, and Hampton U is one that sets the tone for our youth. Choosing not to go to Hampton is taking the passive route instead of standing up against the deeper attitudes of prejudice against our own ethnic identity that’s been ingrained into our people for the last few hundred years. I am by no means a “militant”. I just know that if we don’t change our attitudes about “us”, no one else will.

    I love my “Home By the Sea”, just like I love my family even when one of my clan is acting a fool. But I also will tell my family member when their behavior is unbecoming of them and is sullying our good family name. Dr. Sid Credle, Dean of Hampton U. School of Business, YOU are that unruly family member.

    • AC

      I attend Hampton University also, and this saddens me…so very backwards.

    • I agree with you on this.
      Braids, dreads aren’t EXTREME hairstyles in anyway. Its a way that blacks tame their hair and make it look neater so that we ‘can’ grow it.
      We’re not wearing mohawks or anything like that. Dreads and braids that are done straight-back without all the designs are professional.

  • BW1615

    Really? All this talk about women’s natural hair all over this site, but when its a man its different…smh. If I said how many female CEO’s with fades do you see. Not many, doesn’t mean its not possible.

  • maggie

    The ban on hairstyle sends mixed messages. ‘Professional hair’ is being seen through a eurocentric lens.

  • mia

    Look, as much as we want to think this Corporate America hair issue is a race thing, it’s not.

    Do you think a white man with a mohawk or dyed hair gets hired either? Or say, a white woman with the Cassie half shaved head hairstyle?

    Companies want their employees to have a uniform, clean-cut look. Dreads and cornrows don’t fit that mold.

    The race card does not apply here.

  • Candacey Doris

    My first reaction was to be mad. But i know that a lot of companies feel that way. They’re more comfortable with an Afro on a girl then neat braids on a man. But then you have to wonder why that is. So the question for MBA grads is if they want to work for someone that thinks there hair is an indication of their work ethic and talent.

  • Dichu eba realy lub mehSteebie

    So sad that our men must go through this but this is reality. Shame on Hampton though, because by allowing this to happen, they are continuing this discriminating, Uncle Tom foolery. They could make a difference by letting the men where their hair how they want and encouraging them that its about their grades, attitude, and professionalism that will speak volumes in white america. Not the texture of their hair

    • mia

      “They could make a difference by letting the men where their hair how
      they want and encouraging them that its about their grades, attitude,
      and professionalism that will speak volumes in white america”

      And they would be lying.

  • laura

    I attended Hampton University and graduated two years ago. I was in the MBA program for my first year before I decided it wasn’t a good fit for me. In saying that, I loved the restrictions, as African Americans in the corporate world we can’t afford to not be our very best at all times. We need to raise the bar and stand out not for our hair but for our actions and work ethic. They have recruiters from the best corporations come and give leadership development programs weekly, and the last thing they should be questioning is the level of professionalize from the MBA students.

  • If dreads are worn neatly and taken care of they look very nice and professional on males, cornrows, in my personal opinion, do not.

    • BlueCornmoon

      I’m a teacher & have seen numerous male teachers, college professors wearing their hair in nicely trimmed locs as well as neat front to back cornrows. The women at my school & at various jobs wear it all: twas, natural,locs,relaxed,hairpieces,press n curl, & wigs.A gal pal of mine wears long locks in elaborate beautiful updos & she’s an RN. It all depends on where you are & what the company is like.This whole hair mess has me feeling ambivalent about the race issue because back in the day when the Beatles first arrived, there was a furor over their “shocking” hairstyles & white college students who copied them went thru hair drama that was all in the news. Then came the Black Power mvt & the Afros…I had a HUGE one back then. There was hair drama about that,too as well as lawsuits. Everyone tried for big hair & even curly white kids grew afros. Jewish kids called theirs Jewfros. That’s one reason for the 60s musical called “HAIR” . Also there was drama about moustaches & goatees on ALL MEN in corporate America. Young whites were also heard saying IT’S JUST HAIR, In the military one of the first things they do is give you a regulation haircut………..

      • yes, all males have to have a shaved head once they enter basic training. females cannot be forced to cut their hair, but they do have to wear it in accordance with AR 670-1. it must be neat, off the collar, and the cover (hat) must fit accordingly. i don’t know about now, but when i went in in 1991, a female could not have her haircut in a masculine style.

    • There’s a difference between straight front to back cornrows and Allen Iverson designs and all that.

  • Nigel

    These are grown men that shouldn’t have to be told how to wear their hair. I myself don’t think dreads or braids fit the corporate image but maybe that’s because so few black men in corporate America wear them. The fact of the matter is that no school should mandate how to wear your hair. Hampton should focus on educating rather than trying to get their job placement stats up.

    • If Jay-Z or ten other rich black men started rocking braids or dreads tomorrow I bet they’d shut about it.

      If more black men in power wore their hair long it wouldn’t be a huge issue.

  • FromUR2UB

    Every field has its dress and grooming code. May as well get used to it. That’s why Morehouse requires their business students to attend classes in a suit and tie. After you become a billionaire and sell a commodity that people desperately need, then you can dress and wear your hair any way you want.

  • guestdfw

    I have came to accept that if an employer is rejecting me because of my hair and not my experience or education than Nuts to You! If you don’t value me, someone will. Focus on my hair while I focus on putting the bottom line in black, for another company.



    • Eddie Griffin said it best, racism still exists its just better disguised.

  • Anthony S, Cottman

    You might as well close your doors right now Hampton University. You are going backwards. Wake Up!!

  • anne

    It doesn’t matter what’s ON your head but what’s IN your head!!!!

  • mac

    In a perfect world, braids are just hair and getting a job would be based solely on your qualifications.
    But guess what? we don’t live in one.
    Corporate America is white and unfortunately you gotta play their game in order to succeed.
    I think this school is just prepping them for that harsh reality.

    Plus, as you work your way further up the corporate ladder, you have more leeway to do what you please.
    But to get your foot in the door, you do what you have to do.

    • Pseudonym

      But it’s a slippery slope.

      It starts as dreds and braids, then extends to afros (b/c many whites with afros have to process their hair to make it that way), then big hair period (which is completely GENETIC, but people miss that b/c of the last parenthesis) (and I know this to be true b/c as a naturally big-haired gal, I had to have this discussion with a boss before and point out that I do the same exact thing to my hair that white women do, it just grows up instead of down),then- next thing you know- we’re back to it only being acceptable for black men to have no hair (which is against Rasta religion, in some parts) and black women to have relaxers, straighteners, or wigs.
      and we’ve actually been making slow progresses forward (Remember the black news anchor who went natural?) and this is an unnecessary step backwards.
      and it’s sad that a historically black university is doing this. If they don’t accept our hair, how can we expect non-blacks to properly understand what is going on?

      • cut it

        This has nothing to do with woman it is for men. I will not hire a man in corn rows or dreds it is not professional. Why does a man want to look effeminate.

        • Dichu eba realy lub mehSteebie

          cornrows, understandable. Dreads can look very neat and professional if they are well kept. No excuse, imo

        • long hair all the way.

          It dosen’t look “effeminate.” Long hair is just long hair, and if men weren’t supposed to have it, we wouldn’t be able to grow it long. Believe it or not, some religions and cultures view long hair on men with honor and reverence, and look at men with short hair as slaves or thralls. Traditionally, most men had long hair for thousands of years, up until very recently in human history. It’s closed minded people like you that make this world a rotten place and honestly don’t be surprised if you are sued someday.

    • Cinnamon71

      Sometimes you have to pick your battles and this is one that many won’t win. There is too much competition out there already. Even when you have a MBA or PHD, that won’t guarantee you a career. Do what you need to do to get in and go from there. If you have the brains and the know how, the company will see that. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your hard work. Yes, it is a bitter pill to swallow, but until we get more businesses of our own and make our own rules, this is the hand we have to play.

  • sunkissedbeachbaby

    Same thing happened at FAMU back in the 1990’s. With the advent of social media, this is all over the place, but, trust me, there were a whole heap of protests all over the place about it. I wish I could find my copy of the letter Dr. Sybil Mobley sent out. They eventually had to rescind that decision, but Dean Mobley was a hard bargain and she didn’t back down from anybody.

  • judy

    St. Augustine in New Orleans doesnt allow it either. Either you follow the rules or go somewhere else. Some folks follow the rules because they want to attend.

  • get real

    Braids, dreads and afros can be traced all the way back to Egyptians. Black people have the most diverse on the planet. Sounds like the people at Hampton needs a history lesson. You would expect white folk to be on some ‘scary black man with dreads” garbage like this but other black folk? For real?

    • monitorette

      Tibetans women who live in the desert areas of their countries and indigenous Bolivian women who live in the Altiplano bread their hair too, surely because that’s the simplest way to keep their hair well-maintained when there is scarcely water around. And that’s a timeless tradition. Please stop claiming that multiple braiding is specific to Black Africans.

      • chill.

        Since it has been proven the earliest remains were found in Africa…its safe to say that any hair styles to follow started with “Black Africans”

  • UnapologeticallyAfrikan

    Anything to look like a proper negro for white people. GTFOH!

    It’s not just hair, there’s power in it. Black hair is beautiful, whether its corn rows or locs (there’s nothing dreadful about them). They don’t tell white men to cut their hair, but Black men have to. Sell your soul why don’t you? White people still won’t accept you.

    • mac

      “They don’t tell white men to cut their hair, but Black men have to.”

      Please. Show me a lawyer, business executive, or other respectable position with a mohawk, mullet or any other silly hairstyle.

      • Sam

        Amen to that!

    • get real

      Bingo. You can kiss all the white behind that you want and they still won’t accept your black behind. Black people are so caught up on appearance rather then character and substance. Some of the most intelligent /conscious brothers are the one’s with dreads. Self hate is in full effect if black can’t wear their hair like Nubians, Egyptians and other African nations. This is cultural stuff.

    • Smh at the other responses.
      If they don’t get it they just don’t.
      I agree with you.
      We’re not talking about Mohawks or extreme hairstyles like that. Dreads and braids are not chopping the sides of your hair off and looking like a rockstar or anything.
      Braids and dreads are a way for black men to grow their hair and keep it tame and neat rather than walk around with an afro.

  • gmarie

    Many may hate it, but until there are enough of us with our feet in the door and settled into higher levels in the corporate world…this kind of discrimination will continue to exist, and we’ll have to continue to conform. Yes there are exceptions but that is just it..it isn’t the rule quite yet.

  • Cat88L3

    I agree that it’s just hair, but I’m from NYC. I’ve had friends who have told me they dealt with this first hand in the corporate world, especially from the traditional companies. It’s very true that some, if not most, corporate companies shy away from hiring black males with dreads or braids.

    I can see the point Hampton is trying to make. Yes, it’s 2012, but it’s corporate America. Trying to get your foot in the door as a minority is hard enough. Hampton’s point is they don’t want to give any company a reason to shun their students/graduates.

  • gracie

    Its just hair guys!

    • judy

      Gold teefes dont get hired for decent jobs that have to meet and greet with the public or represent a big company. If they do get hired, they wonder why they arent promoted. happened to a friend until he got the golds removed.

      • MLS2698

        So glad I never got any gold toofes in the 80’s.

  • sexcgenius

    I don’t’t know that many people who would consider “the other HU” to be a premier B school. They are private and can pretty much do what they want. They are trying to build a sought after program and you do that through job placement and creating a sense of exclusivity. This ban is a slippery slope. Some employers do not want men with corn rows or locs, so this can be a disadvantage to black male MBAs. Some black men do not wear rows or locs well and this concerns HR managers who are looking for a certain corporate culture and image to external clients. It sucks that they are encouraging people to supress their culture for the sake of a job but they can do that if they want. I say train ur students to be the ish. If you are a financial genius no one cares what your hair looks like. So, be the best and you don’t have to be subjected to Hampton’s self deprecating rules. Harvard, Yale, and Columbia has redheads with dreds, flip flops, and hippie clothes lol

    • diggy p.

      I agree with you. If an employer doesn’t want their employees to have a certain hairstyle, they will inform them in advance AFTER they have been hired. It isn’t the right way to many black men, but at least they were given an opportunity despite the fact they had locs, a ponytail, or cornrows.

      • Do you REALLY think they will go through the trouble of hiring them THEN ask them to change & risk a lawsuit?

        • Cat88L3

          I agree Esther. They aren’t going to hire you, then tell you to change your hairstyle. Too much trouble & liability. They’ll just hire someone right off the bat that don’t have dreads or braids.

  • Kayo

    Eh. Banning dreadlocks is too much considering some people have been growing their hair for years. Cornrows, I agree with, because I have never seen a grown man with braids look professional.

  • GalaxyEmpress


  • Prissy

    This is a private institution. Don’t like it? Leave an apply to another one. If it is not a religious reason then you should have no problem cutting your hair. This is not a race issue at all. I am over some of us in our community that always do this. Just abide by the rules or go to another school. It’s as simple as that.

    • Dichu eba realy lub mehSteebie

      Banning certain hairstyles is like telling a white red haired person only blondes are eligible to work in a certain office and unless they dye their hair blonde to fit in, they might as well look for another job. But its just hair right? See how ridiculous that sounds?

      • mac

        Apples and oranges. You’re comparing hair color, which one cannot help having, to CHOOSING to wear your hair in a certain way.

  • diggy p.

    Honestly, I didn’t even know Hampton University had such an esteemed MBA program that they could allow such rules. I haven’t heard of any of the top MBA programs such as Kellogs or Wharton with these exclusions, so why should Hampton feel that they could do it. All I’m saying is your worth is not in your hair, it’s in your work ethic and performance. I work at a Fortune 500 Wall Street based company that provides credit ratings and I graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana. Not a very big business school at all (only 2 finance graduates in C/O ’09). I remained persistent in my job search and landed this job just May of this year, 3 years after I graduated. I went on countless interviews, and I wear my hair natural in a big old afro. Yes, I did wear the afro during my interview. And I still got the job without conforming to the European corporate standards that Hampton has apparently adhered to. AND, I don’t have my MBA.

  • Charla

    The ban seems a bit much. I have had black male managers in the federal govt with locs before. But Hampton is a private institution so I guess they can make any rule they want.