This School Banned Natural Hair

A High School in Louisville, Kentucky is under scrutiny after the announcement of a new hair policy that would ban afrocentric hairstyles. At a registration session that took place on Thursday July 28th, Black students enrolling at Butler Traditional High School found out that afrocentric hairstyles – cornrows, braids, twists and dreadlocks – are prohibited in their school house. Soon parents and students took to twitter to voice their opinion about the new school policy, which resulted in the suspension of the policy.


Attica Scott who is running to be state representative, first raised noise about the policy and is scheduled to meet with the principle of Butler on Monday, August 1st.

Immediately after word diffused about the new policy, the school was bombarded with complaints, and decided to hold an emergency hearing to discuss the issue. At this hearing parents and students learned that the policy will be suspended until further notices.

Despite the attention they received from school and district officials, parents and students felt like irreversible damaged has been done, and they will now view the school in a different way. In addition, attendees except for school officials were not allowed to speak at the hearing. However, school officials said they are working on setting up a meeting in where parents and students can freely express themselves.

Stories about Black students being told to change their hairstyles pop up regularly in society. In our featured post "Natural Hair Is Unprofessional," we discuss how Afrocentric hairstyles are considered unprofessional, and give examples in where Blacks were told to alter their natural hair to look "appealing."

After the hearing on Friday, Scott sent a message to her followers via Facebook:

"I appreciate this first step but have to share my own narrative about what transpired today knowing that some in local media will focus on arguments that erupted. 

I am like many people who took their lunch hour from work to attend this special SBDM meeting. I get there and the meeting room is full with students, parents, community folks, JCPS staff, Sheriff's deputies, media, Shively City Council members, school board members, etc. We sit patiently and wait for the meeting to begin. Principal Allen calls the SBDM meeting to order, goes through his spiel about policies and traditional schools, and announces that the purpose of the meeting is to review the Dress Code Policy. Principal Allen makes a motion to suspend the policy and the motion passed. Fine. Principal Allen then ends the meeting after three minutes. 

Many of us begin to look around with confusion -- people who have traveled from Hurstbourne, Newburg, etc., have taken their lunch hour off to attend the meeting, secured childcare for their babies, all expecting to be heard. I sat there for a moment. I then got up and walked over to Principal Allen and spoke, one-on-one, about the need to hear from people who came to speak. Principal Allen looks at me perplexed, says, "just a moment," and then got up to go speak to local media. 

I then went over to Dr. Hargens, one-on-one, and said the same thing and added that it was offensive to not allow people to be heard. Dr. Hargens responds, "let's think this through." What?  
So, when the cameras came over to speak to me, I got up on the platform and said that we would rather hear from the students who took time to show up and share their stories. I am disgusted by Dr. Hargens for her irresponsibility as the Superintendent for refusing to hear from people who were present and for not stepping up as a leader to say let's listen to the people. I am equally disgusted by the white teachers who tried to yell down the Black students as they spoke, teachers, teachers, teachers. How dare these teachers expect these same students to show up to school on August 10th feeling safe around people who tried to publicly humiliate minors (one young woman was even in tears). Students who were not yelling at the teachers but who were actually holding court with media.  

I never once saw Dr. Hargens go over to those teachers and ask them to respect the young people who were speaking -- neither did the Sheriff's officers. What did happen is that Dr. Hargens sat back and watched as adults started yelling at one another over information that was misrepresented. First, the policy that was distributed for review today was different than what was given as a handout during registration on Wednesday. I am so glad that another parent had that registration sheet with her to show the difference in language. Second, these poised students -- teenagers being yelled at by their adult teachers -- were making a strong case against discrimination of any kind, including discrimination based on gender.  

Dr. Hargens showed a side of her today that was very telling -- her lack of leadership is clear. I hope that folks show up to the August 9th school board meeting and send your kids to school with their beautiful, natural hair. In fact, have them meet up on August 10th to walk in together because those teachers were acting in a threatening manner that will probably not be touched on by local media."

So, what do you have to say about this? Comment below and share,


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