A little girl in Toronto has been pulled from her middle school classroom over and over, because of her natural hair.
The girl is an 8th grade student at the Amesbury Middle School in Toronto Canada. Her principal’s name is Tracey Barnes, and she has vowed to make her sit in the office during school hours, until she subdues her hair.
She’s already taken her out of class more than once.
Her criticisms of the girls hair all come from the Respectibility playbook.
- It’s too puffy
- It’s unprofessional
- Nobody will ever hire you
- Nobody will ever buy from you.
- Put it in a scrunchy
- Pull it back…or no learning for you.
That may all sound very reasonable to some people. After scrunchies are about $1 per half dozen. She had previously worn it braided or in a fiery natural bun. It’s not like she is incapable of meeting the demands of the principal.
And if hair were mentioned anywhere in the uniform dress code, right or wrong, Barnes would be justified in snatching the girl from her classes.. We’ll never know, however, because the student handbook doesn’t mention hair. According to district policy, she has a right to wear the hair that grew out of her scalp?
Is it too poofy? I don’t know if there is any objective way to answer that question. Is there a poofy-meter that we can employ? Anyway, who establishes the baseline of poofyness?
Unprofessional? Well, she’s 13. I suspect her hair is the least unprofessional thing about her. Are you going to go all “zero tolerance” on Hello Kitty lunch boxes and diaries that have little locks on their sides?
Seriously, there are thousands of Black women with hair just like hers, gainfully employed in a myriad of professions. Also, any profession is more than seven years away. A lot will change in that time, including greater acceptance of natural hair and her hair style itself.
She has a pretty long time to explore different types of protective styles, locs, updos and even the hot comb or creamy crack.
But what about the principal, Tracey Barnes? The woman who has decided that a scrunchy is more important than hours of instruction? She is a Black woman, and if that shocks you, you haven’t been paying attention.
She’s Black, as is the principal of Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science, Angelicque Blackmon. It has been suggested that she dismissed a handful of teachers who had included Black studies in their curriculum, in the name of neat, seamless assimilation.
Two years ago another little girl was threatened with expulsion because of her afro puffs. She attended a charter school that had been established by and was run by Black administrators.
Then there is the Dean of the School of Business at Hampton University, Sid Credle. A Black man at a Black college who banned cornrows and dreadlocks, in the name of professionalism and seamless, comfortable, assimilation.
She is cut from the same cloth as those people who think that if young Black men would pull up their pants, police brutality would disappear. And if women would dress respectfully (whatever that means) rape would be a thing of the past.
She believes that the key to equality is invisibility. Lower your voice, and your hair, and disappear into the white crowd.
It’s never worked, but that doesn’t stop us from trying it, generation after generation.
Your homework is to show her how misguided she is. Here is her school’s information. She might be in Canada, but email knows no borders.
Here’s their email address. I’m sure they would love to hear what you have to say.
There is an Afro in Toronto that needs your support. Don’t let her down.