The Threat of Natural Hair

There are stories I am really tired of reading.  At the top of that list are students being ostracized by school administration because of their hair. From the elementary school girl who was kicked out of her school to institutions of higher learning that banned dreadlocks I am really sick and tired of this bullshit. How is it that a place where you are supposed to go and be educated, learn cooperative skills and social interactions with those different than you seem to always punish those who are different? What message are you sending?

My son with his shoulder length locs

My son with his shoulder length locs

So many of these policies tout “extreme hairstyles” as distracting. Why is it that these hairstyles deemed extreme are always natural hairstyles worn by Blacks? What is so extreme about our authenticity?  I have never been a teacher, but I have been a soccer coach, a girl scout troop leader and frequent chaperone and a room mother; if you cannot keep a group of students on task because a hairstyle is distracting them and derailing the entire lesson you have other problems.

The most recent of these stories comes to us from South Plaquemines High School in Louisiana where a teenage Rastafarian student has been given an unlimited suspension due to his hairstyle of locs.  A little education: In the Rastafari religion they do not believe in cutting their hair, and the wearing of locs is not required but very central to these beliefs. The student was originally suspended because the length of his hair was in violation of the dress code which stated that the hair could not be longer than the shirt collar. The student returned with his hair pinned up, but the school still deemed his hair to be in violation. How is this any different than a girl with long hair wearing her hair in a bun or ponytail? It isn’t the school is going out of their way to discriminate and harass this child. The ACLU has got involved and is helping the teen’s family fight the decision.

As I read about this story I heard Jay-Z’s famous line” I thought this was America people?” from his song Guilty Until Proven Innocent.  What happened to freedom from religious persecution? What happened to the first amendment? The family provided documentation to the school superintendent from religious leaders and the student was still denied to return to school until he cut his hair.



One thought on “The Threat of Natural Hair

  1. I find it unconscionable that places specifically created to help empower and educate people are isolating and discriminatory. Then again, I can’t say I’m surprised. We still have a very long way to go.

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