Darryl George, a Black student at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, received an in-school suspension.
His locs, which school officials said violated the district’s dress code standards.
Darryl’s suspension came ironically during the same week Texas enacted the CROWN Act.
The law aims to abolish racial discrimination based on hairstyles.
This law, whose acronym stands for:
“Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,”
is intended to prevent racial hair discrimination.
However, Darryl was penalized for his natural Black hair despite the new regulations.
This highlights a prevalent issue in many institutions.
Throughout history, hairstyles have held a profound significance in Black culture.
They often symbolize heritage, spirituality, and identity.
They served as methods of communication in African societies and represented resistance against societal norms post-slavery.
Black hairstyles have always been more than mere fashion statements.
Candice Mathews, the national minister of politics for the New Black Panther Nation, notes:
“Dreadlocks are perceived as a connection to wisdom.”
“This is not a fad, and this is not about getting attention. Hair is our connection to our soul, our heritage, and our connection to God.”
Darresha George, Darryl’s mother, emphasized the cultural and religious importance of dreadlocks in their family.
“Our hair is where our strength is, that’s our roots”.
She further notes:
“He has his ancestors locked into his hair, and he knows that.”
Stating that their Black hair represents their roots and carries the legacy of their ancestors.
Barbers Hill High School was under scrutiny for a similar incident in 2020.
The management argues that its policies are about discipline and hygiene.
They reiterate that it’s all about conformity for the collective benefit.
Greg Poole, the district superintendent, also affirms this.
“When you are asked to conform … and give up something for the betterment of the whole, there is a psychological benefit.”
“We need more teaching (of) sacrifice.”
However, this perspective is facing criticism for allegedly perpetuating racial biases.
A Wider Perspective on Black Hair Discrimination
Unfortunately, this isn’t an isolated event.
Across the nation, many Black individuals have faced prejudice for their natural Black hair.
It is often seen as “distracting” or “unprofessional.”
Such incidents range from unwarranted comments in classrooms to job dismissals.
They highlight a broader problem in society.
This leads to calls for widespread adoption of laws like the CROWN Act.
Darresha notes that her son has been growing his dreadlocks for nearly ten years.
They have never received pushback or complaints about his Black hair until now.
When let down, his dreadlocks hang above his shoulders.
Daresha couldn’t understand how he violated the dress code when his hair was pinned up.
“I even had a discussion about the CROWN Act with the principal and vice principal.”
“They said the act does not cover the length of his hair.”
Having served his suspension, Darryl George plans to return to school.
He will have his hair styled to meet the dress code.
However, concerns loom large.
The school authorities have hinted at sending him to an alternative school if they perceive further violations.
Amidst this, Darresha fears for her son’s academic future.
She notes the suspension is already impacting his grades and extracurricular participation.
In conclusion, the incident involving the Black student’s suspension in Texas is a stark reminder.
The battle against racial prejudices, even in seemingly minor forms like hair discrimination, is far from over.
As more states adopt the CROWN Act, ensuring its effective implementation is pivotal.
This goes for all institutions and workplaces.
They must promote genuine inclusivity and respect.
Black HS student Darryl George received a week-plus suspension over his loc hairstyle — just days AFTER Texas’ CROWN Act went into effect! That law bans discrimination based on a student’s hair texture or protective hairstyle, including locs and braids! https://t.co/Ap0d3kKypw
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) September 13, 2023
A second suspension
According to CNN Allie Booker, an attorney representing the family, told CNN Tuesday that school officials have asked George and his mother to meet to discuss the continued disciplinary action over his hairstyle violations.
The family has been given a Wednesday deadline to meet with school officials, the lawyer said.
“What I expect for them to try to do is to put him out of school,” Booker told CNN. “But they won’t do it with our consent.”
The family was previously told the teen would be placed in a Disciplinary Alternative Education Program, also known as alternative school, if he didn’t cut his hair, Booker said.
In a statement shared with CNN, David Bloom, director of communications for the Barbers Hill Independent School District, said the district is “unable to provide any comment with respect to disciplinary matters involving a student.”