What reason can anyone give for removing children from school because of hair extensions other than racism?
The issue of hair extensions is once again in the news when a Jefferson Parish student was asked to leave school because she had beautifully groomed extensions in her hair. Someone at Christ the King Elementary School changed the policy a while back and somehow forgot to get the message to all parents.
The school’s rule only allows natural hair for students. The policy applies to all students, but its obvious targets are African-American females. Whites and Asians wear extensions, too, but they are often difficult to detect without a close inspection. Extensions for Black females are easy to detect.
Generally, schools adopt codes about hair that prohibit styles that would be distractive.
Among black females, extensions are not distractive. In fact, they are so common that they hardly turn a head; except adults who are unfamiliar with the culture.
The female asked to leave school this week was immaculately groomed. She had a freshly laundered uniform, shoes and socks, her skin was freshly lotioned and her hair was conservatively groomed, although her extensions were obvious but not a distraction by African-American community standards.
Adults in the workplace from banks to the United State Post Office have African-American women employed whose hairstyles were much less distractive than the one worn by the excused student.
A recent report on National Public Radio revealed that there is a growing number of suspensions in America with a disproportionate number of suspensions related to dress code violations. Most of those being suspended are black.
Public schools are having the problem across the country, but it’s even worse at charter schools that often have tougher dress code requirement. The fact that the majority of the dress code offenders are black is disturbing.
Daniel J. Losen, director of the Center for Civil Rights Remedies, found that at the highest-suspending charter schools in the nation, the majority of students were black.
Though databases for infractions vary from state to state, in a recent analysis, half of suspensions in charter schools were for minor nonviolent offenses, including dress code violations.
In Monroe, Excellence Academy was the only public school that enforced strict dress codes. The school supplied the student’s entire uniform except for shoes and required students to meet the dress code. However, there was no hair requirement. Braids, extensions, dukie braids, afros, puffs, bald heads, crew cuts, weaves…all were acceptable.
Extensions, weaves and hairstyles are “cultural trends” that are not worth the fight.
The people who make policies relating to hair must educate themselves. Even among the white students who study with black students know that extensions are not a distraction because nearly all of the stars they idolize in the media wear them.
It seems like a case of old folks setting standards for a new generation from rules based on ancient racial prejudices.
If it’s hair extensions today, what’s next?
Fingernails that distract.
Eye shadow that distracts.
Lip gloss that distracts.
What about no hair at all…that really distracts!
If Christ the King himself returned to the school, I wonder if he would ask someone to leave if she wore extensions in her hair? Would he care?