Curly In The Classroom
Written By ANALISE HARRIS
Founder of Curls on The Block
Boys as young as four years old ask their parents to cut their hair because of the comments from classmates pointing out how their hair is *different*.
Young girls by 2nd grade identifying themselves as having straight hair despite the curls growing naturally from their scalp.
High schoolers are covering their heads with hoodies on a bad hair day.
Being Curly in a Colorado classroom is no easy feat.
Pink bandanas, beads at the ends of braided hairstyles, and headwraps, curly/coily/afro/loc’d children in Colorado schools have previously been subjected to discriminatory dress code policies and disciplinary actions based on their hairstyles.
These situations where cultural relevancy and understanding could have prevented certain students from escalating to the point of suspension are very common.
Imagine being a young Black girl having experienced great trauma in your life, including family turmoil; almost losing your life at the hands of your own mother. To say the least, the school environment is a challenge, and when it comes to certain rules against wearing bandanas and hoodies, well, that is not high on your priority list.
Charter schools, innovation, and public schools with dress codes all have ideologies where everyone looks the same in a uniform, eliminates the hierarchy of “cool” based on clothes. But for the Black girl who towers over her peers and didn’t get all of her hair braided the weekend before, well, a bright pink bandana and a hoodie covering her hair, is precisely the solution regardless of the rules.
You refuse to remove your hoodie at the request of your teacher, and after multiple unsuccessful requests, disciplinary reinforcement was brought in. Your hoodie is removed only to reveal the bright pink bandana. Of course, this was out of dress code.
This outdated and prejudiced policy of bandana coverings being associated with gangs impacted this young Black girl who was simply not having a good hair day and used her resources to avoid humiliation. Situations like these require care and understanding for all parties involved–sadly, the student is usually at the short end of the experience.
Fortunately, we have educators, programming and the Crown Act to advocate for policies and create safe spaces for our young, Black and curly students to be able to learn in classrooms where their academic achievement and social-emotional well-being will be more important than appearance every day.
The Crown Act was supported by Leslie Herod, Janet Buckner and Rhonda Fields. It protects against hair discrimination in the workplace, in Colorado, school districts are being held to the same standard.
Resources available to our young curlfriends include the Curls on the Block App, providing a directory of curl-friendly stylists, online educational programming using hair and beauty to explore STEM, and challenges to engage users and build self-esteem.
The app is available on iOS and Play Store with both free and VIP levels.