Tiana Parker, a young girl of seven, was cute as a button when she marched off to school this morning in Tulsa. She looked spick-and-span in her uniform, and her hair was aligned in perfect dreadlocks with a big pink bow on top. Tiana's father Terrance is a barber who, in his own words, "[takes] pride in [his] kids looking nice."
But Tiana left school this morning in tears. Why? Because the school felt she didn't look "presentable." According to the school's dress code, “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable." Young girls have to face enough criticism from peers without being humiliated and scolded by adults. I vividly remember having to take a note home from my fourth grade home room teacher explaining that my own hair was “unkempt and unacceptable.” It was mortifying and confusing; it made me feel gross and ugly, and I am almost certain it would not have happened to a boy with messy hair.
But what happened to Tiana is much worse because of the clear racial prejudice in the school’s handbook. The fact that afros and dreadlocks, real symbols of African American pride and culture, are associated with counter-cultural and rebellious “fads” is concerning. No little boy or girl (no big boy or girl, either, for that matter!) should ever be made to feel that their appearance is somehow deviant and wrong. Tiana was clearly totally humiliated and confused when she wept, “They didn’t like my dreads.”
Acting bravely and urgently, Tiana’s father pulled her out of the school, and he has enrolled her in a new one. One where she can wear her hair however she likes. Terrance Parker has instilled an excellent message in his daughter’s heart and mind, and I hope she takes it with her wherever she goes. The girl boldly reports to Fox, “I think they should have let me have my dreads.” We agree, Tiana, and now you can.
Thanks to Fox23
Image via The Raw Story
The opinions expressed on the BUST blog are those of the authors themselves and do not necessarily reflect the position of BUST Magazine or its staff.