Is your school’s dress code racist?
Most of our parents or guardians would agree that the dress code in schools has many benefits for students. At certain ages, students begin experimenting with their identities and looks. It keeps some crazy clothing to a minimum and puts the attention back on to what students should be learning.
IN THE US
The Ohio-based Horizon Science Academy (HSA) took the concept of a uniform school too literally. The school banned African American hairstyles. The school sent a letter to parents and guardians with the updated dress code for the school, with “Afro-puffs and tiny twisted braids … and rubber bands of any sort, are NOT permitted.”
For those individuals who are not familiar with this hairstyle, Afro-puffs in natural black hair is simply a ponytail. Small or tiny twisted braids could refer to several different African-American hairstyles, including box braids; a style that protects natural hair, which is easy to maintain.
Black girls who wear these types of styles usually have natural hair. The school is making a statement that they prefer white-looking hairstyles over natural Black hairstyles. Instead, they’d rather Black children use dangerous chemicals to straighten their hair or wear other people’s hair (extensions and weaves) so they can look like their white counterparts. In essence, to make the white people feel comfortable.
To help you understand the implications of this policy, it would be equivalent to the school’s administration telling White students (girls) that they could not put their hair in pigtails or ponytails and that they must all dye their hair to an unnatural color. This is insane, and worst of all, it’s racist because it’s pushing white hairstyles on Black children.
Giving the school the benefit of the doubt, let’s assume that they created this rule out of deep ignorance and not as a deliberate act of making a racist dress code. Because, either way, it remains that this policy is packed with bias. It is giving African-American girls the impression that the hair they carry on their heads is wrong. Or that without their hair undergoing a vat of chemicals first, it’s not good enough. Such messages are devastating to a child’s self-esteem, and are harmful to their hair.
EVEN IN SOUTH AFRICA
And yet there was another school in South Africa where the police were threatening to arrest some young ladies who protested the dress code of their school. Administrators of the said school called their natural hair, “untidy.”
There have been several cases of this in the United States and there was even a case of a ballet school kicking a young Black girl out of her recital for her natural hair. Administrators who create these dress codes are invariably insinuating that there’s absolutely something wrong with Black children’s hair matching their DNA. We don’t want our children getting the message that there is something wrong with them from an early age, and especially not from school.