Imagine a world where everything that you choose to do with your hair is not allowed. Imagine in that same world that only you are not allowed to do these things, while other people can do those same things and get away with it. Imagine that the only reason you can't do these things is because you're black.
Sadly, this "hypothetical" scenario is a harsh truth for many African Americans throughout the nation. Their hairstyles are mocked, made fun of, disrespected, and deemed as "ugly" or "gross," only for white people to do the
exact things when copying the hairstyles.
In an article by Vibe it is made known that Mystic Valley Regional Charter School recently banned Deanna and Maya Cook from their prom because they wore Box Braids to school. The two girls were undoubtedly shocked at the decision their school board made, and for good reason.
This charter school clearly has a strictly enforced dress code, stating that dying, highlighting, brightening, and sun-in hair is not allowed. Deanna and Maya stated that when white people at their school dye their hair it is as if the school board "...ignores it."
When the two girls refused to take out their extensions, the school made the ultimate decision to ban the girls from their prom and prevent them from participating on their sports team.
A large number of parents are calling this act racist, and rightfully so.
In an interview with Boston 25 News, the girls’ adoptive mother, Colleen Cook, stated this had happened to other people attending the school as well. “All the little black children were marched down for a hair inspection, whether they had braids or not, and were asked, ‘are those extensions’ ‘are your braids real or not?'” she said.
It is clear that this school has a racial bias.
Something that schools, workplaces, and things of the sort fail to realize is, when they make the decision to publicly punish African Americans for wearing African American hairstyles, they are further implementing the notion to black people that their hair is unacceptable.
Another common issue is the inevitable role reversal when people who are not black try to claim these very hairstyles. However, instead of getting ridiculed like African Americans do, they get praised for their "urban" and "cultured" hair.
This is not an uncommon thing to happen, and when people culturally appropriate the hair and lifestyle of the black community, they often raise questions like "why is it okay when you do it, but not when I do it?"
The answer is quite simple.
Black people are put down, banned from their schools and jobs, and seen as lower class for the exact same things that white people are celebrated and raised up for doing.
The culture of black people is only for black people. It needs to be recognized, understood, and most of all, respected.