Dare To Be Natural: The Radical Threat of Authenticity

Here we go again. 7-year-old Tiana Parker was removed from school because her hair, styled in dreadlocks violates the school dress code. Deborah Brown Community School policy regulates “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.”  It goes on to clarify that “For safety reasons, girls weaved hair should be no longer than shoulder length. Wearing weaved hair in multiple colors is not allowed. Boys’ hair is to be short and neatly trimmed.”  Read more about the story here. tiana parker - deborah brown community school

How is it that we got this point where we have regulated that a weave is an acceptable look for a young child but their own hair as grown naturally from their head does not maintain a “respectful and serious atmosphere”?  What happened?  Where did we go wrong?  When did authenticity become an act of rebellion?

This isn’t the first story of its kind. Earlier this year a school in Ohio banned afros and braids in a new dress code (they later rescinded the policy after public outcry). In 2012, Hampton University banned students from wearing dreadlocks and cornrows, a policy that still stands. I am not shocked by the schools behavior. Comments from Black celebs like Sheryl Underwood, Andre Walker, Isaiah Mustafa who seems to bash, malign and feed into old stereotypes about the undesirable nature of kinky hair.  Oh and who could forget radio host Don Imus “nappy-headed hoes” comment in reference to the Rutger’s women’s basketball team in 2009.  This isn’t me searching the internet for these obscure stories. I remember them clearly because they are offensive and unacceptable.

To be completely honest I hate writing pieces like this. I hate that post about negative or derogatory content get the most views. I hate that I can remember reading about each of these events, vividly recall exactly where I was and how I felt.  I remember them for the pain and hurt they caused.  And it saddens me that in 2013 we are still fighting these ridiculous battles.  I will continue until  a time that is no longer needed because the outrage to such stupid logic is corrected and my voice is not longer needed.

My name is Haley and I have natural hair. I work in a professional environment at a large communications company.  I wear my hair in twist, braids, curls and even a large afro.  On top of that I have a patch of bright blue hair in the front. My son JK is 8, he wears locs and has one loc colored blue just like his mother in the middle of his forehead. We dare to be natural.  Our natural hair, an expression of who we are, is not a threat or disruption to your business, the school day, or public safety.

Blue natural hair locs derby city naturals

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5 thoughts on “Dare To Be Natural: The Radical Threat of Authenticity

  1. So very, very sad. I am crying as I am writing this. To have a school policy that forbids a child from styling his or her natural hair in styles that are uniformly accepted around the world is disgusting. It takes me back to conversations that I had with my great grandmother about how the “house staff” was made to straighten their hair so they would not offend “white guests” who were visiting or coming for dinner with their natural hair in an “unkempt appearance”. I cannot imagine the pain that they have visited upon this little princess. I am feeling nauseated. Still crying. I sincerely hope that there is a local attorney who will offer pro-bono assistance to this little lady’s father and help him challenge this backward administration policy designed to send us back to the dark ages of slavery.

    • Dreadlocks are not uniformly accepted around the world. There are countries even in Africa that forbid the wearing of dreadlocks in schools. Unfortunately the school can set a standard as to what is acceptable. Some companies can refuse to hire you because of hairstyles as well. I don’t think its a black/race/ natural issue. The military also does not allow dreadlocks and many types of hair styling. One person may think it acceptable and another may not. At the charter schools I run in New york I do not allow dreadlocks and other forms/types of hairstyles. Parents have a choice to comply or take their children elsewhere.

        • Matted hair does not fit our well groomed policy. Afros, braids, etc are acceptable if they are well kept and conservative. I do not feel this policy prevents anyone from being “natural”. I am a natural and have been natural for all my 42 years. Parents are informed of our policy before they apply for admission. We had a few that challenged us in court but lost….we have the right to set a policy just like they have a right to choose a school that is more to their liking.

  2. Pingback: The Threat of Natural Hair | derby city naturals

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