Do you remember your very first trip to the principal’s office? That short walk from your classroom felt almost unbearable as you searched your brain trying to figure out what you’ve done and how much trouble you’d be in. What if your offense and the very reason for your trip was the most natural part of your physical appearance: your hair?
This was the case with 7-year-old Tiana Parker – a straight ‘A’ student at the Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She was sent home because her dreadlocks – her short, neatly tied, bow adorn dreadlocks – were deemed inappropriate by school authorities. The school’s policy actually stated “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks and other faddish styles are unacceptable”.
African American hair comes in a gorgeous array of styles and textures and African American women have been wearing afros and locs since the beginning of time. But sadly, many see natural hair as extreme and unkempt, despite the fact that rocking a natural hairstyle just means wearing our hair the way it grows out of our head without chemical processing. This leaves me with so many questions. How can the way a child’s hair grows out of her head be considered faddish? A fad is the blue hair I just had to have a few years ago then got rid of just weeks later. What are we then saying to this child? Is she not pretty enough because she doesn’t have long straight hair or bouncy curls?
It is incredibly disappointing, this little girl just wanted to rock her dreads. But much respect to Tiana’s parents who decided not to conform to racist and other appearance standards but deciding instead to take their daughter to a new school where she will be celebrated and not punished for her gorgeous hair and her amazing grades.