By Julie Broch
“Hair is a form of self-expression, shouldn’t be a right or wrong way..” the hairstylist, Danay Wadlington, wrote on her Facebook post.
Narvie Harris Elementary School in Georgia is under fire after putting up a poster dictating “appropriate” and “inappropriate” hairstyles for black students. A parent with a student attending the school shared a photo of the poster with her hairstylist, who then, in turn, put it up on Facebook. The post very soon went viral and angered parents around the country that only black students were being targeted.
Some agreed that the school had a right to dictate its dress code, but the vast majority stated that they were taken aback by the fact that the school could not see how biased and discriminatory their poster was.
Wadlington, an African-American, voiced her opinion to the New York Times saying that, “it wouldn’t have looked so bad if they had included other races. Those styles are very popular styles. Who says that our hair is not professional? Our hair is part of us.”
While the school is mostly made up of black students and staff, that does not mean that the inherent bias of the poster can be disregarded, some Twitter users commented. One commenter stated that “black people can still be anti-black. It’s still ridiculous, still humiliating. May even be more painful coming from folks who ‘should’ know better.
The actual, written dress code dictated by the school only prohibits certain clothing, jewelry, tattoos and piercings that can be distracting in a learning environment, not mentioning anything about hairstyles.
The school district released a statement saying that “the poster was the result of a miscommunication relating to appearance rules at the school,” and continued to say that it was removed once the district was made aware of it.
In July, Gov. Gavin Newsom made California the first state to ban discrimination against black students and workers over their natural hairstyles. A few weeks later, Gov. Andrew Cuomo followed, signing a similar bill into law. Most recently, New Jersey lawmakers have introduced similar legislation, and many organizations are encouraging all states to follow their lead.