Earlier this month, we reported about the incident in which a seventh-grade social studies teacher is accused of making Black students wearing handcuffs during lessons about slavery and not allowing them to leave class if they feel uncomfortable, something that was in accordance with the teacher’s class policy as he had allowed White students to leave class if they wanted, but not Black students. While the investigation about that specific incident is still undergoing, other incidents involving Black teenagers are being reported almost on a daily basis in schools across the country.
Now another school is under fire, not because a teacher has been involved in a racial incident, but because of the school’s hair policy which appears to be an issue for some Black students to attend classes. According to multiple sources that already reported about the story, mother of a Black teenage student claims the school’s “braided hair or corn rows” policy is discriminatory for her Black son and he is unable to attend in-person teaching because he fails to comply with the policy.
Few months ago, the 17-year-old D. Williams and his mother were nothing but shocked when they learned that the Tex. based EBHS has a policy in place that prevents the teenager to attend classes. The 17-year-old’s new school’s dress code policy stated that “braided hair or corn rows will not be allowed,” a policy that went against his very sense of self.
The mother, understandably, was furious about the policy and decided to speak publicly months later after several unsuccessful attempts to solve the issue with the school principal and the school district.
“Once you cut that hair off, you cut off your line to your ancestors, you cut off your lineage, you cut off everything,” Williams’ mother, Desiree Bullock, said. “And just it’s not an option… We don’t consider them dreadlocks because we don’t dread them we love them.”
The school’s student handbook, where the district’s policy on hair is spelled out, states that “Boy’s hair may not extend below the eyebrows, below the tops of the ears or below a conventional standup shirt collar, and must not be more than one-inch difference in the length of the hair on the side to the length of the hair on top.”
According to the mother, her son has proudly worn his hair in twists, braids and locks all his life and that is part of his identity and a direct connection to his ancestors. Speaking to CNN, Bullock claims that changing the boy’s hairstyle in order to comply with the school’s policy is not an option for either of them.
Per the Black Enterprise, the school’s policy goes on to state, “This includes but not limited to tall hair styles, side swept bang styles, and long hair dangling over shaved sides or shaved back of the head. This also includes mullets and mullets in the making. Braided hair or corn rows will not be allowed. No extremes in hair styles.”
The mother, who now has to homeschool Williams and his two sisters due to the district’s hair policy, says the policy is discriminatory and tried to solve the issue with the school principal. Per her claims, she tried to find a solution with the school as she and the student met the principal several times. She was advised to file a religious exemption to the district superintendent, but she was denied. In addition, Bullock says the district’s superintendent said in an email that “assuming the child can meet the requirements, they are welcomed to enroll” and she was offered no real solution.
Bullock says she feels bad her son won’t receive the same opportunities to run track and get recruited by scouts for college scholarships as he enters his junior year.
“I feel really sick to my stomach,” Bullock told the outlet. “I feel like (the district’s hair policy) needs to change. I feel like it’s horrible and I feel like it’s only toward African American children or people.”