OPINION: Let Go Of Our Girls Hair and Let Our Girls Learn

Writing for The Root, The Burton Wire‘s founder & editor-in-chief Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., discusses the growing number of cases of black girls being punished at school for wearing natural hair styles. Dr. Burton calls out “educators” for policing black girls bodies which is the only thing unnatural about wearing natural hairstyles. Check out an excerpt below:

EXCERPT

In recent weeks, there have been a number of news stories about black girls being discriminated against at school for wearing natural hairstyles. In July 2016, a news story went viral about a school in Pretoria, South Africa, banning black girls from wearing natural hairstyles like Afros because they were “untidy” and “unladylike.”

In March 2017, twins Grace and Thabisa, who are of South Sudanese descent, were pulled out of their classes at Bentleigh Seconday School in Melbourne, Australia, and told to remove their braids because it didn’t “represent the school.” After an uproar from parents who said the policy was an attack on African culture, the girls were allowed to return to school.

Last week, there was a story about twins Maya and Deanna Cook, students at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School in Malden, Mass., who were kicked off their sports teams and prohibited from attending a prom because they wore their hair in braids.

The school said that the girls were in violation of the dress code for wearing their hair in an “unnatural” way, which includes braids. The girls were also placed in detention for two weeks for refusing to change their hair, and other black students were singled out for hair inspections…

So why are black people in general and black girls specifically being targeted?

 The Petty Pendergrass in me thinks that some folks are jealous because they don’t have the versatility that natural hair affords black women. We can loc, twist, cut, grow, curl, weave, braid, shave—pretty much do anything we want with it and look good doing it. If natural hairstyles worn by black girls are so bad, then why are white celebrities like Fergie, David Beckham, Juliette Lewis and the Kardashians celebrated for wearing them?

The academic in me knows that there’s something more occurring: the targeting of black girls for whatever infraction—perceived or real—of normative worldwide behavior. Historically, the bodies of young black girls have been policed, touched, harassed and violated—legally. See slavery. See segregation. See the civil rights era. See the post-civil-rights era. See the new millennium. See Halle Berry’s unwanted kiss from Adrien Brody at the 2003 Academy Awards. See the kidnapped girls of Chibok, Nigeria. If you think that a focus on people touching black women inappropriately, especially when it comes to our hair, is a stretch, then listen to Solange’s song “Don’t Touch My Hair” for a recent testimony.

What is happening to our girls now is not a stretch. In fact, it is part of the fabric of our country and its institutions…

EXCERPT ENDS.

Read the entire article at The Root.

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