racist dress code

The Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma sent seven-year-old Tiana Parker home because they didn’t approve of her dreads, which are apparently in violation of the school’s dress code. Tiana’s father, Terrance Parker, removed Tiana from the school and sent her to another school that isn’t so glib about making young children feel terrible about themselves for no legitimate reason (important: there is no legitimate reason to make a child feel terrible about him or herself).

Claiming that her hairstyle wasn’t presentable enough and that her “her hair might be a distraction from the atmosphere they’re trying to achieve,” the school sent home a completely presentable Tiana in tears. According to the school’s dress code, “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.”

Last time I checked, dreadlocks and afros aren’t “faddish,”—I’m pretty sure they’re not referring to bros who just discovered Bob Marley and are like “I’m going to give this dreads thing a whirl.” They’re just the way a lot of black people wear their hair, and have been wearing their hair for centuries. Afros and dreads are natural hair styles—they’re flat out banning the way some African American people’s hair looks. They should have just written “no black person hair” and been done with it and not even pretended to not be racist.

The video of Tiana being interviewed and crying because her school “didn’t like [her] dreads” is seriously heartbreaking. Kids are bullied for a billion reasons, and schools are supposed to do their best to protect their students. Instead, they made Tiana feel like something about her was wrong and shameful.

Good for Terrance Parker for refusing to change his daughter’s perfectly presentable appearance and teaching her to stand up for herself like this. Thankfully, she’s at a school that has no problem with her completely well-kempt appearance. Hopefully, increased attention to this issue will force schools like Deborah Brown Community School to reexamine their codes of conduct to make them inclusive of their diverse student bodies, instead of writing straight up discrimination into their rule books.