An outraged mother and her son are speaking out after the 17-year-old was denied a summer job at Six Flags Over Texas because of his dreadlocks.
Karis Washington of Forth Worth took her son Kerion, 17, for an interview at the popular amusement park in Arlington over the weekend only to leave with the disappointing news that he didn’t get the gig. Apparently, park’s grooming policy doesn’t allow locs.
“I just don’t even believe it,” Kerion, who’s been growing his shoulder-length hair for three years now, told NBCDFW. “That I would have to do that just to work there … They told me that I couldn’t have dreads, because it’s more of an extreme hairstyle.”
The teen’s mother detailed the incident in a Facebook post last Saturday, saying she spoke with the park’s human resources supervisor, who told her that Kerion would have a chance to come back and interview — but only if he didn’t have dreads. The Arlington theme park considers the hairstyle, common among folks of African descent, as too “extreme” and has since banned it.
“I told her [that] I read the grooming policy, and it says your hair can’t hang more than 2 inches below your collar or [more than] 2 inches above your head including dreads, braids, etc,” Karis Washington wrote. “Nowhere did I read that dreads are not allowed.”
She added that the HR rep even compared her son’s hairstyle to more extreme looks like “tattoos and piercings.”
For Kerion, the summer job just wasn’t worth cutting his hair for. His mother agreed.
“Why cut his hair for a seasonal job and for 7-9 dollars an hour?” Karis Washington told the news station. “If it was a career, different story.”
The controversy is the latest in a string of recent incidents involving Black children being targeted or discriminated against over their natural and cultural hairstyles. A Waco, Texas, woman blasted what she called “racist” policies implemented at her son’s school after she received a letter asking that she cut the boy’s locs before sending him back to school after winter break. In August, a Louisiana girl was booted from her private Christian school after leaders said her braided extensions were a violation of its grooming policy.
In a statement, Six Flags Over Texas — which might be best known for a 2013 fatal accident in which a woman was thrown to her death from a seat in its Texas Giant roller coaster — clarified its own grooming policy, saying it does not allow “extreme hairstyles such as drastic variations in hair color, locks or partially shaven heads.”
“We maintain a company-wide grooming code that includes standard uniforms for front-line team members,” the statement read in part. “We do permit braids, and we also recognize that some team members may request accommodations to our grooming code due to religious, cultural or medical reasons. We work with those team members on a case-by-case basis to address his or her individual needs.”
Washington’s post garnered plenty of reactions from online users, many of whom opposed Six Flags’ dreadlocks pan.
“Extreme!? Extreme is ear gauges/piercings all over your face,” one woman wrote. “Dreads could religious/fashion. They don’t look out of place- meaning very neat! That’s soo crazy.. this world we live would rather for you to fail than help you succeed.”
“Smh! Racial discrimination — just move on,” another wrote. “You don’t want that type of environment anyway.”
One woman said the same policy barred her from a managerial position at the theme park, and that she”politely declined” after officials asked that she cut her hair.
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