I’ve been told I tend to be pretty bitter when writing about the current state of our world. My rose-colored goggles are permanently fogged the fog up. Maybe one day I will write something that wholeheartedly commends and praises a particular aspect of society. I will finally give some credit to the people who work hard to make this world a better place. I will finally write a piece that doesn’t bash politicians, sports pundits, voters, the media, the government, the local Stop & Shop, Carmelo Anthony, our relationship practices, the education system, foreign policy, people with doctorate degrees, racism, sexism, Russell Westbrook’s point guard skills, Bud Selig, the lolloping Andy Carroll, NCAA athletics, the lack of empathy, the lack of altruism, the lack of thoughtfulness, parenting practices, the people we admire in society, Andrew Jackson, Jesse Jackson, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the police (eff ‘em), nuclear development, Obama-rama, NewtGinrichRickSantorumMittRomney (they’re all the same to me), petulant customer service representatives, and of course, myself. Well I got some news for you, today ain’t that day.
But this isn’t about me. This is about a widespread belief in “acceptable” appearance. Millions of people are co-opted into this acceptable appearance to obtain a job so that they can provide for themselves and their family. It is rather difficult to live a fulfilling life in today's society without succumbing to the ways of the world. How is one supposed to buy that 60 inch HDTV if they don’t have a job? If you’re not making money you can’t buy that new designer purse or those kicks that just came out. If you want that fancy upscale apartment on the upper west side you need some sort of capital flowing through your bank account. Such is the way of the world. You ride with it, or you die against it.
This isn’t a problem for most people. We grow up in a world where most successful people look and act the same. These are people on the winning team. While our young minds are developing we see people with money and power and want to be those people. We notice that they wear their hair a certain way. They wear suits and dress shoes. They don’t leave the house without high heels on. They drive luxury cars and vacation in Cabo. They have long-flowing blonde hair. We take note of these little details, and we eventually become them when we come of age.
But there are people who want to be different. The luxury cars and the fancy lofts don’t matter much to them. Being a free-thinking individual means more to them than working at a top law firm. These are the people that society could easily do without, for society runs as smoothly as we allow it to. The more docile the public are, the better. Those who question and challenge are a severe hindrance on the collective machine.
What were we talking about again? Oh yes, acceptable appearances. It seems silly that someone’s looks can be the deciding factor in whether one obtains a job or not, but that is the case in a majority of situations. At one point in time yours truly wanted to be a news anchor, this was before I locked my hair. Now? If your goal is to be on TV, as a BLACK MAN there is no way of reaching that goal without having a clean cut and zero facial hair. The world has gone all tits up hasn’t it? Or has it always been this way?
Numerous successful, thoughtful, well-wishing people have told me if I wish to be seen as a respected professional in whatever industry, this hair will be the death of that dream. The employer’s influence on the image of their business is robust and final. They have the implicit right to deny employment based upon tattoos, body piercings, hairstyle, etc. All you will hear is that you weren’t the right fit for the position. You will not hear them say the rejection was due to that funky-looking eyebrow piercing or the unkept Mufasa mane you were sporting that day.
Undoubtedly appearance does matter. The observer is sizing up the observed at first glance. So even before that first interaction or conversation, one will be judged by how they look. This is a universal folly every person has been guilty of at some time or another. The chasm between what does matter and what should matter grows as we heed the unjust rule of appearances and style. It is encouraged and enforced in every public and private setting in society. It is taken as eternal truth, to be obeyed and recognized without solid reason and consideration. We do not challenge it because we do not know if there are any alternatives. What reason is there to explore alternatives if it will end in ridicule and self-loathing?
Sacrifices are made for tangible rewards. We must remember what we are sacrificing and how it affects not only our well-being, but the well being of our fellow brothers and sisters. We must think about the blessings received from these sacrifices, if there are any at all. Compromises must be made, but we mustn’t blindly surrender our identity. We cannot teach ourselves and our children to live in vanity. Our minds are contorted by the make-up we smother on our faces. Once this make-up is washed off the truth will be the only thing we see and recognize.
This is a call to arms for those of us that do not wish to be co-opted by the demands of the power brokers. Smoke a blunt before the drug test. If the employer doesn’t want to hire you only because you occasionally blow one down, they can go about they business without you. Wear your hair however you wish. If the government denies you an acceptable position because you don’t look like them, respectfully tell them to suck themselves off. If you don’t want to wear high heels to work, don’t. If business attire makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t wear it. Start your own business where you can wear whatever you want. Stay true to yourself and your principles; don’t be swayed by the trends of our time. Do not compromise your beliefs in the name of the dollar. Be as you like, wear what you will. People who judge solely from appearance are fickle and lack solid principles. You can ignore them, but try to show them that you are as you do, not as you appear. The world will not be changed through adaptation and assimilation. Progress cannot be made in a society where difference is shunned and ridiculed. Embrace your aura. Compromise only out of necessity. The world wants us to be docile. They want us to lack critical thought and reflection. They want us to put up or shut-up. The control exercised over us runs deeper and is more complex than we think. Don’t adhere to the rules of the game devised to sniff out dissent and conflicting thoughts. Be you. Be free. Be real.