A teacher wrote an awful letter home about a little girl’s natural hair, and that’s a big problem
Black girls and women are constantly policed because of their appearance. Whether it’s their skin tone or their hair texture, the policing — and sometimes violence — that Black women and girls are forced to endure just for existing is inexcusable. And one teacher exemplified this unjust behavior in her treatment of a little girl’s beautiful natural hair.
Tionna Norris received a letter from her daughter’s teacher at Raggedy Anne Learning Center in Chicago — but instead of being notified about either her child’s disruptive or exceptional behavior displayed in the classroom (which is normally what you’d find in a teacher’s note), Norris was shocked to find the letter focused on her daughter Amia’s natural hair.
The letter in question requested that Norris use "less coconut oil" in her daughter's hair in order to prevent classmates from teasing her daughter about how her hair "stinks." As Cosmopolitan mentions, Amia is also the only black child in her class.
Even after Norris sent a follow-up letter to the school’s administrator, it was reported that no bullying incident ever took place. Norris believes that the letter was sent as a result of the teacher’s discrimination against her daughter, and we can’t really blame her.
Black girls and women who choose to wear their hair naturally are constantly bombarded with messages that their hair is "dirty," "unkempt," or downright disgusting. And if these messages aren't spoken aloud by classmates and coworkers, they're written within the coded institution regulations that state how "unprofessional" it is to wear hair in puffs or dreadlocks.
Norris has since removed Amia from the school, and is focusing on building her daughter’s self-esteem and confidence. That way incidents like this will not dampen her spirit. We can only hope that as there is a greater push for diversity, we’ll begin to create a culture that embraces and celebrates the traits that make Black girls and women unique — including our natural hair.