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Dreadful discrimination

Published:Sunday | September 11, 2011 | 12:00 AM

While being light-skinned could help you land a job in the shrinking Jamaican job market, sporting locks could keep you standing in the unemployment line.

Psychologist and CEO of the Job Bank, Leahcim Semaj, opined that wearing dreads could also prevent you from climbing up the professional ladder. Semaj is also of the view that the intolerance employers mete out to men and women who sport locks in Jamaica is a more worrying strain of discrimination than the colour prejudice that lingers. "They (employers) don't want any dreadlocks in them place," he said.

Semaj highlighted that the detractors of dreadlocks in the workplace believe that the hairstyle does not look professional.

The popular psychologist also pointed out that men with locks have faced this type of discrimination for many years. However, he said as the locking of the hair becomes more popular among the modern Jamaican woman, they, too, are increasingly being sidelined or professionally suppressed by this form of ethno-racial discrimination.

Semaj said he receives a lot of complaints via email from people seeking advice on what to do after they were denied a job because they sport dreads.

"The issue of dreadlocks has become a more consistent aspect of discrimination. Firstly, at the level of hiring and definitely at the level of promotion, where it is expected that a woman's hair has to be creamed or permed to look professional," he explained.

"A number of institutions are providing that kind of feedback in terms of people they hire or not."