Students Being Discriminated Against Because of Their Hair

Danielle Cook

In Baltimore City, Maryland, 13-year-old honor student Danielle Cook was denied admission into Cristo Rey Jesuit School because she has dreads as her natural hairstyle. After public pressure, it was only then that the school reverse its hairstyle policy ban. According to her mother, Danielle has been a straight A student since preschool.

Cristo Rey Jesuit School is a college preparatory institution, and the young eighth grader believed she fit the admission criteria. One of the teachers at Cristo Rey Jesuit School was quoted as stating,”Well, we don’t take kids with dreads”. Danielle Cook says the representative told her that Cristo Rey places students in work study and dreadlocks don’t look professional.

Lately, I have heard so much about natural hair and young African American female students are being punished for wearing their hair natural. As an African American female student with natural hair, I feel the need to address and explore this issue.

Vanessa Vandyke

There was another account involving 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke who attends Faith Christian Academy in Central Florida, but she was faced with expulsion. Vanessa’s school required that she either change her hairstyle or be expelled for a week.  How unfair is that and what type of message are we sending?

Vanessa, who loves the texture of her hair, talked to a local news channel in her area about her choice of hairstyle. “It says that I’m unique,” she said. Once again, school officials have reverse their policy after receiving public scrutiny. Why is natural hair such a problem for people and especially for children?

These little girls are 12 and 13 years of age who are both awesome students. This should not be a factor that determines whether they should be allowed to pursue or further their education nor should it bring on any type of punishment. Since when did the way a person wears their hair become a requirement for the type of education they can receive?

According to a consumer study Mintel conducted,

The percentage of black women who said they wore their hair natural jumped from 26 percent in 2010 to 36 percent in 2011. The shift from relaxed to natural is becoming so common that it has spurred growth of a whole new sub-segment of products for women who are ‘transitioning,’ “Our target is 70 percent African American and 30 percent other. A lot of other women – Jewish, Latina and red heads who tend to have coarse, wiry, coiled textured hair — are interested in these products. Caucasian women have curly hair, too. Read Full Article

For some, natural hair is a lifestyle choice to be free of using radical and dangerous chemicals to straighten hair for the purpose of confirming to societal norms. It is a sense of liberation. Whatever the reason, it’s just hair, and it should not be used as a way to define someone.

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Brittney Cobb

Brittney Cobb is a News Correspondent for Social Work Helper and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Brittney studied Criminal Justice at Saint Augustine's College and has her Masters in Social Work from North Carolina State University. She is a Behavioral Health Provider at Statesville Children's Clinic (an affiliate of Gaston Family Health Services). As a Clinical Social Worker, she provides behavioral health services in a primary care setting to children and adults. She wants to make a difference and give back to the community. View all posts by Brittney Cobb

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