An African-American teen in Florida says she has been given a week to cut her afro or she’s been told to leave school. As Local10.com reports, administrators at 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke’s private school, Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, want her to cut and shape her hair and gave her a week to decide.
The school says the do is a don’t because it violates the dress code. The student handbook reads: “Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction,” and goes on to state examples that include, but are not limited to, mohawks, shaved designs and rat tails.
VanDyke has been going to the school since third grade and says she has no plans to change her hair because it is part of her identity. “It says that I’m unique,” VanDyke tells reporters. “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”
Out of the mouths of babes, yo.
The way I see it, you can argue for VanDyke’s rights several ways here. Firstly, it’s her hair. That’s what it does. It’s not like she’s dyed it green or spikes it into a mohawk. She’s just letting it do what it wants to do.
Secondly, let’s talk about what constitutes a “distraction” in school and why so many schools are hellbent on encouraging conformity.
As Vandyke’s mom Sabrina Kent so astutely points out, “A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another. You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?”
Do we honesty think someone’s hair style, the one they wear every single day of the school year, be it an afro, pink hair, a mohawk or a shaved head, is going to distract kids? Come on! And why the intense focus on sameness and boring? What’s wrong with celebrating differences and the way each student chooses to express themselves?
Forcing VanDyke to cut her hair amounts to bullying on the part of the school administrators. That’s the way I see it. Stop mindlessly spouting policy and really take a look at what’s at play here.
If this were my child I’d fight this all the way to the top and it seems that’s exactly what Sabrina Kent plans to do.
“I’m going to fight for my daughter,” Kent said. “If she wants her hair like that, she will keep her hair like that. There are people out there who may think that natural hair is not appropriate. She is beautiful the way she is.”
We should all be so lucky to have mamas like that.
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