Why Are So Many Schools Discriminating Against Natural Hair?


by Marsha B.

A child’s foundation begins at home, and is further developed in the school system. In the household, children learn core values, manners, self-worth, and much more. School can either reinforce those values, or tear them down. Over the years, the education system has done our kids a disservice by implying that their natural hair or protective styles are unprofessional, distracting, a violation of dress code, unsanitary, and unruly. The traditional and cultural foundation that parents work so hard to establish can be destroyed the minute a school administrator chooses to focus on hair, rather than education.


A New Hair Social Order

by Dori Phelps

So, first of all I want to state some givens. I’ve been black all my life. I don’t know what it is like to be anything else. My life experience consists of the fact that I have never been skinny: never very large but svelte is not a category I would fit in. Nor have I ever been reserved or without opinion; my personality bubbles into every situation. And I’ve never met a stranger.

However, I am in American culture, the other; too dark, too big and too loud. Basically, I am taking up too much room, heard too much and seen as well. That thought experiment can be parked for now. I mention that only to say I am not stranger to otherness. For to add to that, I have short hair and wear it naturally.

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Texas Court Rules in Favor of Hair Braider Isis Brantley

This natural hair movement has taken off so rapidly that we forget how it even got started. As bloggers take the spotlight, accompanying us through our personal hair care lessons together, we can now stop briefly to appreciate one of the pioneers of this movement. Isis Brantley was one of the first women to notice the need of spreading the art of braiding from one woman to another. Not only did she live for this, she fought for this.

And now she is celebrating a major victory as last week a federal judge declared that the set of laws that were preventing Brantley and other braiders from teaching students to braid for a living, were in fact unconstitutional.  This has been a long-fought battle for Brantley, who in 1979, Brantley opened up the first natural hair salon in Texas. In the late 70’s natural hair had a different image, a different message. In my interview with Brantley she shared that “The word ‘natural’ was a negative word, so I helped people to challenge their jobs and change their perception and began teaching hundreds of people how to braid, twist and loc hair and potentially make it their business.”  In 1995, the state came to her storefront to disclose it was illegal to braid in Texas for profit.  Brantley recounted how in 1997 “seven law enforcement officers barged into my building and handcuffed me to go to jail for braiding without a cosmetology license. I got out of jail, got a lawyer and in 2007 they grandfathered me in as a licensed braider.” 

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Congress Demands U.S. Army Grooming Standards to Change

On Tuesday, March 27th, 2014 we published an article titled Are the Proposed Army Changes Discriminatory to Women With Natural Hair?. This post outlined the new regulations the U.S. Army's AR 670-1 created on natural hair. 

Reclaiming the word "Nappy"


Nappy was never a word you wanted to hear or be associated with when I was growing up. I’m a part of Generation X, the latch-key kids, Atari players, the generation after the baby boomers. If you were born between 1965 and 1980, you are a part of Generation X.

It’s safe to say that as a black child in this generation, your hair was either pressed or relaxed. Having natural hair (or what we called nappy hair) was unacceptable and made you an easy prey for ridicule. There was no alternative. You had to straighten your hair in some way and if your hair was not funky, fresh laid, you were bound to get teased. Negative labels were hurled from the classmates and playmates who had learned them from their mothers, aunts, and grandmothers. Nappy was not a sentimental word used to tell little girls how unique and beautiful their hair was.

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My Curly Hair Was Holding Me Back at Work

When I first went natural I was terrified of going out into the world with my new hair. It was my own hair but there was no straightening, wig, or weave to cover my curly texture.

It was just me.

I was received with welcome arms from most, but I did notice the silent stares by others. Despite that, I can honestly say I was treated no differently. Then, I switched jobs and it was like going from day to night. My immediate supervisor (who did not hire me, by the way) made it known that she did not like my curly/coily hair. The few times I would straighten my hair she would shower me with “ooohs” and “ahhhs” and “it’s so pretty this way.”

The last time I wore it straight to the office, she went so far to say, “it’s professional when you wear it straight and you should keep it this way.” I was stunned, infuriated, and high-tailed it to the ladies room to ruin my style with water and my spray bottle. Needless to say, it was the beginning of the end for that job and yes, there were other problems but the main problem was me not being accepted as me.

Lupita Nyong'o- "There is no shame in Black beauty."

On Thursday night, the stunning actress was honored at Essence’s 7th Annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon in Hollywood, where she delivered a powerful speech on her quest to accept the skin she was born in. Like most young children growing up, her perception of beauty came from what she saw celebrated on her television screen, and it wasn’t until she saw a model that looked like her, walking the runways that she began to embrace her beauty. She also revealed that she spent years praying that she would wake up a lighter complexion, but she learned over time that beauty is so much more than the external. Beauty is compassion for yourself, and those around you. You can’t just consume it, it’s something you have to be.

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Hospital Advises Straightening Children's Hair?

The natural hair community is getting stronger by the day here in the U.S., but that isn't the case for the rest of the world. In Brazil, the home of the Brazilian Blow Out treatment that uses formaldehyde to straighten tight curls and coils, the pressure to straighten begins very young.

Much like the stories that comes from those in the natural hair community today, who remember long, painful hours of having their hair straightened before they even stepped into an elementary school, women with tight curls in Brazil are encouraged to straighten their hair as well as that of their daughters. And, that encouragement doesn't just come from the media and culture -- it has also been supported by medical professionals in hospitals.

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President Obama Admires Dante De Blasio's Afro!

So... it's no just me?!

I'm not even an NYC resident but every time the De Blasio family grace the television screen, I give pause.  It's awesome to see natural hair displayed and celebrated on a national stage and it's cool to see President O admiring it right along with us!

According to the NY Times-
During a fund-raiser for the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday night in Midtown Manhattan, Mr. Obama first introduced Mr. de Blasio, whom he endorsed enthusiastically Monday in the November general election, as the “next mayor of New York City.” 
But then he singled out Dante, seated at his father’s table, who starred in a popular — some believe pivotal — television commercial during the summer. 
“His son, Dante, who has the same hairdo as I had in 1978,” Mr. Obama said, according to a pool reporter at the event, which was held at the Waldorf-Astoria. “Although I have to confess my Afro was never that good. It was a little imbalanced.” Everyone laughed.
Continue reading>>>

(Photo courtesy of Curtis Young/Available on Associated Press)
Last week I shared the heartbreaking story of 7-year-old Tiana Parker. She was sent home from Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma because her hair was deemed inappropriate and distracting. According to the school's policy, 'hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable'. Shortly thereafter, I also shared an exclusive interview with father, Terrance Parker.

Here's a quick update and statement from the Parker family regarding the pending policy change at Deborah Brown.

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Tiana Parker
This morning I shared the heartbreaking story of 7-year-old Tiana Parker. She was sent home from Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa, Oklahoma because her hair was deemed inappropriate and distracting. According to the school's policy, 'hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable'.  KOKI, reported that Tiana's father, Terrence Parker, pulled her out of classes and enrolled her in a new school stating, 'it hurt my feelings to the core'.   

Mr. Parker spoke with CurlyNikki.com reporter Marisol Correa, today to share their experience and how Tiana's adjusting to her new school.  

Girl Sent Home Because ‘Dreadlocks’ and ‘Afros’ Are Too Distracting

Sorry for all the negativity this week, y'all.  But now this is happening-

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Afro Puffs, Politics and Privilege

by Erica Thurman of EricaThurman.com
 "So what? You wear your hair natural. Now, add darker skin to that. Add a different physique. How much harder do you think things would be for you? You’ve been acting like there is an equal playing field even among people who occupy the same category of oppression. The fact is that you’re a skinny, light skinned Black girl with curly hair and that buys you lots of passes in your everyday life."
 I felt like he had slapped me. My friend wasn’t done yet. He continued, “What you’ve been doing is speaking on behalf of a group that you don’t belong to. You don’t know the experiences of darker skinned, heavier Black women because you are shielded by the politics of beauty.”

Resistant to my friend’s claim, I pushed. I explained that as a Black female, my looks don’t conform to standard notions of beauty. I further stated that being Black in America didn’t buy much in the way of social or political access. My friend responded by telling me that I was literally looking at this issue as if it were just Black and/or white and that I was ignoring the “degrees” of acceptance based on skin tone and physical appearance. Essentially, he was telling me that I was blinded by my own privilege.


The Politics of Natural Hair

by Jor-El of Manemanblog.com

Recently I came across a posting on Curly Nikki’s site that asked the question, “Does Natural Hair Make You Blacker?” If you are a Black American then more than likely you have explored this question or even had a discussion about it with friends. So does natural hair make you Blacker? In my opinion…yes and no.

For some, the process of growing out ones hair can be a very intimate and political experience. I have mentioned this before but for me personally, this is/was true. Growing out my fro is close to me because when I was younger I often received a variety of reactions to my hair, much of which was aligned with how others interpreted my bi-racial identity as a problem (ironically, my hair was almost exclusively in a low-cut, Cesar style). I grew up in an area with a very “Black or White” mentality and way of thinking. My hair was heralded as “good” compared to some of my other Black peers. This was often an uncomfortable experience for me because while a part of me appreciated the positive attention, there was another part of me who felt disconnected from the other Black kids at my school and in my community. I thought I, nor my hair, was any better than anyone else and it took me a while to understand how those reactions actually said more about my peers felt about themselves than about me.

Needless to say, now I know that people have different interpretations of what it means to act or “be Black” and I have come to accept my own personal definition of my “Blackness” and I do my best to not oppress others by expecting them to ascribe to my beliefs. That being said, “being Black” does refer to a set of stereotypes, both good and bad which sometimes I embrace and sometimes I reject. I think that is an important part of seeing yourself as both an individual and a part of any collective group. For me, having an afro does offer me a connection to my heritage as a Black person, most specifically a Black American. Does it make me Black, absolutely not. Does being Black make me any less Puerto Rican? Not to me! Does having an afro make me militant and anti-White? Not a chance.

When I decided to grow out my hair, it was empowering for me on several levels. To start, it was a way to both accept and reject the notion of having so-called “good hair”. Showing my fro proudly is a way to embrace my racial identity not only as Black man but more generally as a man of color with an eclectic heritage. For me, the variety of my hair strands and patterns is a nod to my roots in both Africa and Puerto Rico and I am as proud as ever to show that. *peacock strut*

Rocking a fro daily is also a way for me to reject some of those gendered norms set for men (of color). Only with more confidence in my identity am I able to sport my fro and deal with the perceptions from others about my loose natural hair. I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked, and very pointedly I might add, “What are you gonna do with it? When are you gonna braid it? Corn rows? Dreads?” The point I’m trying to make is that people will always make assumptions. We all do. That is what people do.

To tackle the question, “Does natural hair make you Blacker?” is an insurmountable task. I don’t really think there is any way to fully unpack what “Blackness” really does mean. Maybe it has very little meaning for our day-to-day lives, I don’t know. Like many of you out there know, the definition varies from person to person BUT (and that is a big BUT), when you think of what it means to be Black you usually think of stereotypes (both positive and negative) that you have learned over the years. Having natural hair may or may not be one of those stereotypes. We all have these of each group we come in contact with. If someone asks you what it means to be White, you also think of a set of stereotypes that you have learned over the years. The same goes for Latino, Native American and Asian people. Hell, we all even have a set of stereotypes for biracial/multiracial people too. So does natural hair make YOU blacker? Only you can truly answer that question.

What say you?

Michelle Obama and the Politics of Natural Hair

Image taken from NaturallyCurly.com's article
'Michelle Obama and the Politics of Natural Hair'

TerraD writes:

A post on another curly blog, made me think....What would happen if Michelle Obama, our lovely First Lady, were to go natural? Now put your creativity cap on for today's question:

What would Mrs. Obama's natural, signature style be? Twist out, Bantu Knot out, etc. Why do you think that style would fit her?

Tresses of Choice

Check out this article on NYTimes.com. Big thanks to Ashley for the heads up!

"When it comes to straightening hair or letting it be natural, the choice still pushes deep emotional buttons for many African-American women. Others ask, why can't hair just be hair? Nine black women discuss their hairstyles and the attitudes surrounding their hair."

Listen, and weigh in!

Later Gators,

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