Things That Matter

UPS Finally Lifts Its Discriminatory Ban on Natural Black Hairstyles

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

UPS is finally catching up with the times and making some broad-ranging changes to various parts of its dress code.

The delivery company announced on Tuesday that it would lift its long-standing restrictions against natural Black hairstyles like locs, braids and afros. In addition, the company is lifting its policy on requiring drivers to be clean-shaven. The company also announced that it would no longer have gender-specific guidelines about dress and appearance–such as putting restrictions on the length of its drivers’ shorts based on their gender.

UPS released a statement saying, “these changes reflect our values and desire to have all UPS employees feel comfortable, genuine and authentic while providing service to our customers and interacting with the general public.”

Per UPS, their decision to finally overhaul the long-detested policy came from their CEO, Carol Tomé, who received feedback from employees that their appearance policies made them less likely to recommend UPS as an employer to potential employees. On a recent conference call, Tomé also announced that UPS would be providing trainings to employees on anti-racisms and how to identify and combat unconscious bias.

While the announcement is obviously a step in the right direction, the change still feels like a long time coming. Back in 2018, UPS was fined $4.9 million by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The lawsuit alleged that UPS’s “strict appearance policy has operated to exclude Muslims, Sikhs, Rastafarians, and other religious groups from equal participation and advancement in the workforce for many years.”

Natural hair discrimination by employees has recently been making national headlines after the CROWN Act was passed as law in seven states. The CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) prevents employees from discriminating against Black people who wear their hair in natural or protective styles.

Again, while many people were happy with the news, the announcement nevertheless brought up some bittersweet feelings.

The fact that it took UPS so long to change what we now know is a blatantly racist policy doesn’t feel like it should be worth celebrating.

This Twitter user pointed out that UPS’s policies policing Black women’s hair is an example of the insidious nature of structural racism.

Why has it taken UPS 113 years to realize that its policies on employee appearances are discriminatory? Probably because they weren’t even realizing how much the policies penalized Black people for the hair that naturally grows out of their heads in the first place.

This person had a perfect response to people who say “It’s just hair.”

The fact that Black people have to change their natural appearance in order to be earn a living is inherently wrong.

This Twitter user shared his firsthand experience of being subjected to UPS discriminatory “appearance guidelines”.

We wonder how many other people with locs have similar stories. This man wasn’t even allowed to interview for the company–literal gatekeeping at its worst.

This person pointed out that UPS is not the only company to police their Black employees’ natural hair.

UPS is just the tip of the iceberg. There is a still a lot of work to do when it comes to dismantling the structural racism of many companies’ policies.

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Two Black Moms Took Their Kids To Play In A Fountain On The Mall Then Secret Service Officers Swarmed Them With Guns

Things That Matter

Two Black Moms Took Their Kids To Play In A Fountain On The Mall Then Secret Service Officers Swarmed Them With Guns

Chip Somodevilla / Getty

Two Black mothers headed to our nation’s capital last week to give their children some playtime in the fountains at the World War II Memorial. The day was hot and the mothers thought the memorial would be a perfect place to let their children cool down and have some fun.

Unfortunately, the day quickly turned sinister when the women and their children were swarmed by Secret Service agents who pointed a rifle at them.

Last Thursday, India Johnson, 26, and Yasmeen Winston, 25, were driving their infants to take a splash in the fountains at the memorial when a Secret Service cruiser drove into their front left bumper.

The two women have reportedly been best friends since seventh grade and are mothers to boys: 13-month-old Sir Quincy (Johnson) and six-month-old G’esus (Winston). Both Sir Quincy and G’esus were sitting in the back seat of the car that they were driving. According to the women, Mother Goose Club was playing on the radio. Then, within seconds of the Secret Service cruiser driving into their car, an officer pointed a rifle at them and yelled “Get out!” and “Put your hands in the air!”

Soon enough, more officers surrounded them with guns. Eventually, Winston and Johnson were handcuffed and separated from their children. According to both women, they were detained without being given a reason as to why and were spoken to by police officers who did not wear masks, despite the current coronavirus pandemic.

According to the Washington Post, “Initially, the women said, an officer told them the vehicle had been reported stolen and that the suspects were two Black men. But the women, both African American, said no men were with them and provided proof that Johnson was the owner. She told the Secret Service she had never reported the car stolen. Eventually, the women were released — without an apology or answers to their questions.”

Winston and Johnson are now demanding that the Secret Service investigate the incident and release the details to the public.

“This incident took place near our national monuments across from the White House,” Timothy Maloney, the women’s attorney, wrote in a letter to Secret Service Director James Murray over the weekend. “It occurred after eight weeks of unprecedented national demonstrations about excessive police conduct, some of which took place right there on Constitution Avenue. Has the Secret Service learned nothing this summer?”

Speaking about the incident Winston told the Washington Post “I could have been another Breonna Taylor. I could have been another innocent woman who has no record and got shot.”

In a statement to the Post, a Secret Service spokesperson said that they had received a “query requesting the agency investigate an alleged interaction between Uniformed Division Officers and two members of the public” and that they are looking into the incident.

Winston says she and Johnson have spent the days after the incident completely traumatized.

Winston told the Post that she is currently seeking therapy and their friend is avoiding going outside of her home. “We don’t get in trouble. Nothing like this has ever happened to us. I thought the police were here to serve and protect us, and now it’s really uncomfortable,” she explained.

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A Muslim Teen Has Filed A Discrimination Claim After A Starbucks Put “ISIS” On Her Cup

Things That Matter

A Muslim Teen Has Filed A Discrimination Claim After A Starbucks Put “ISIS” On Her Cup

KSTP / Via Facebook: watch

After enduring quite a bit of pain over receiving a cup with the word “ISIS” instead of her name, a Muslim teenager has filed a human rights complaint. According to the teenager whose name (as reported by Buzzfeed) is Aishah, on July 1 she and a friend went to a Starbucks located inside of a Target in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The 19-year-old said that a barista asked her to repeat her name when taking her order, but she was shocked by what she saw when she first received it.

Aishah says that she feels as if the incident happened because she was wearing a hijab and a face mask.

“I felt a lot of emotions, and shock was the main one because I actually couldn’t believe this was happening,” Aishah told BuzzFeed News.

Speaking about the incident, the deputy director of the Minnesota chapter of Council on American–Islamic Relations, Mohamed Ibrahim said “This is a reminder that Islamophobia is alive and present in our communities.” In an effort to address the issue, the group has made efforts to help Aishah file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

In her interview with Buzzfeed, Aishah said the barista said that “ISIS” had been put on a cup because they hadn’t heard her name correctly. According to Buzzfeed, the Target employee who served Aishah said “they did not hear her name.”

When a manager attempted to explain to Aishah that people’s names are frequently misspelled on cups, she said that the explanations were “not credible or acceptable.”

“When somebody orders a drink at Starbucks — if the barista can’t spell the name, then they ask you to spell it,” Aishah explained in her interview that such a mistake had never happened with her order.

Aishah’s human rights complaint, claims a manager offered her a free drink and a $25 gift card for her troubles and had her escorted out by security.

Target, which oversees the Starbucks location where the incident happened, told BuzzFeed in a statement that it’s “very sorry for this guest’s experience at our store and immediately apologized to her when she made our store leaders aware of the situation.”

A spokesperson also explained that an internal investigation found “it was not a deliberate act but an unfortunate mistake” and that the company will offer additional training to the barista. According to Aishah, she has yet to hear from Target since she called the company to complain. She also has not heard from CAIR-MN.

Jaylani Hussein, the executive director of CAIR-MN, is calling for the barista and manager in question to be fired and for Target and Starbucks to reinvest in training for their employees. “We are hoping that bringing light to this incident will actually transform how Target and Starbucks and many other companies deal with such incidents,” Hussein said.

Unfortunately, it’s not the first time Starbucks has received such a complaint.

In August of last year, a man told a barista at a Philadelphia Starbucks that his name was Aziz. He was soon given a drink with the term “ISIS.”

“The barista mistakenly spelled it incorrectly,” a Starbucks spokesperson told NBC News at the time.

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