Complex Roots

Exploring the Intersectionality of Black Identity and Hair Politics in Professional Atmospheres


Washington, D.C.


The primary social justice issue for this trip is to investigate discrimination against black hair in the workplace and general bias against certain traditionally black hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, and cornrows. Throughout history traditionally black hairstyles have been considered unkempt, unclean, and unprofessional in certain atmospheres such as corporate america, the military and even on college campuses. Many present-day dress codes even ban black people from wearing their hair in those styles. Due to the limitations of hair choices in the workplace, parents and mentors may promote hairstyles involving straightening or altering the hair's texture over other hairstyles to young children. Through this trip we hope to educate ourselves on current hair policies in corporate America and politics. Additionally, we will explore the stigmas against traditionally black hairstyles on college campuses. Finally, we want to understand how these explicit and implicit hair policies may restrict the occupations in which black youth can see themselves, and affect their self perception. The ultimate goal of this trip is to work with community partners to promote self-love and acceptance amongst employers and youth regardless of their hairstyles.




Trip Leader Florence OdigieFlorence Odigie '20

Florence is a junior from Queens, NY. She is studying Chemical and Biological Engineering and pursuing certificates in Environmental Studies and African American Studies. On campus, she is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers, the Botany Club, and SIFP. In her free time, she enjoys participating in cooking competitions on campus with her co-lead Heavyn Jennings.


Trip Leader Heavyn JenningsHeavyn Jennings '20

Heavyn is a psychology major with a certificate in African American studies. She was born in Northern Mississippi and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri. She is a SHARE peer, one of the project leaders for CONTACT of Mercer County suicide prevention hotline, and a member of Scholars Institute Fellows Program (SIFP). Outside of class, she enjoys spending time with her friends especially cooking and baking with her co-leader Florence. She is excited to explore black natural hair politics in the nation’s capital and gain insight about the next steps for the Natural Hair movement.