According to the parent-student handbook of the Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, “Hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros and other faddish styles are unacceptable. For safety reasons, girls’ weaved hair should be no longer than shoulder length. Boys’ hair is to be short and neatly trimmed.”
That’s why the parents of Tiana Parker, 7, pulled her out of class. As the little girl told KOKI-TV, “They didn’t like my dreads.”
The school reportedly told Tiana’s dad she didn’t look presentable because of the dreads, which he says she wore all last year as well, but a school official tells Yahoo Shine, “We have photo documentation in our yearbook that her hair was not in dreadlocks during the 2012-2013 school year.”
For the record, Tiana’s dreads are very well kept and photos show them swept up into a tight ponytail with a sweet pink bow.
That same official also tells Yahoo Shine, via email, that Tiana’s parents refused to change the hairstyle even though the handbook plainly states it’s not allowed. Despite that policy, the incident is causing controversy, including claims of racism and a comment on the school’s Facebook page that says, “I suggest you read a few books about Black hair and its uniqueness….To degrade and exclude the little girl for a hairstyle is ludicrous, immature and asinine and unacceptable.”
It’s a valid point. The school has about 200 kindergarten through 5th grade students, 99 percent of whom are African American. And that’s my problem with this particular incident. I understand certain hairstyles may be deemed a distraction or unacceptable, but calling dreadlocks and afros “faddish” is a problem. As another Facebook commenter astutely points out, “Naturally textured hair is not a fad, if this is important I wouldn’t want my child attending this institution. You’re teaching every student that black girls must change their natural physical appearance to be accepted and to achieve.”
The school maintains enforcing the dress code is important to “encourage respect and seriousness of school.”I maintain the school should amend its dress code as it regards to hair to encourage respect and seriousness of school because, as it stands, I don’t respect an institution that bans dreadlocks and afros, and it sounds like I’m far from alone.
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