Yesterday, I wrote about Vanessa VanDyke, a twelve-year-old black girl who was threatened with expulsion from Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, because administrators claim that her natural hair is a "distraction."
Now, school administrators are saying that Vanessa won't be expelled for failing to cut her hair, if she "styles it differently."
Vanessa said she doesn't want to cut her hair and doesn't want to straighten it, either. At the same time, she also doesn't want to leave her classroom at Faith Christian Academy and her friends.What a fun holiday for their family!
After Local 6's original story aired, school administrators changed their requests of Vanessa and her family.
"We are not asking her to put products in her hair or to cut her hair," read a statement sent to Local 6. "We are asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook."
The handbook does not cite large or frizzy hair, noting only, "Mohawks, shaved signs, rat tails, etc."
[Vanessa's mother, Sabrina Kent] said she and Vanessa are going to talk about their options over Thanksgiving.
Calling natural black hair "disruptive" because classmates make fun of it is racism.
Obliging a black girl whose hair naturally is fuller than (most or all of) her white classmates' natural hair to spend the time, energy, money, and emotional treasure to conform her hair is racism.
Failing to hold accountable students who tease a black girl about her natural hair is racism.
Conflating natural black hair with "mohawks, shaved signs, rat tails, etc." is racism.
There is nothing right or acceptable or decent about the actions this school is taking against this young woman.
And their gross handbook policy being used to justify their actions isn't exactly helping their cause, frankly. Banning "shaved signs" is coded racism, in the same way saggy pants bans are. And rat tails is coded classism, as it's a hairstyle that's typically been popular among the working classes.
Even if going after Vanessa's hair was justifiable by the student handbook guidelines, which don't include rules about natural black hair, those bullshit guidelines are demonstrable of further bias. Fail.