Dear Deborah Brown Community School ~
It is quite a feat for a small charter to make national news. It is perversely disappointing, however, to read that a charter school led by two black women is systematically persecuting students of color for celebrating the natural textures of their hair.
As an educator, I understand and value the impact of comportment. Indeed, many ills of the contemporary school environment can be aggravated by lax guidelines on conduct and appearance. Nonetheless, your policies against natural hairstyles levels a much more serious attack against your students.
Rather than teaching them how to be “presentable,” your policy forces the concept of “acceptable” at a disastrously early age. Yes, the school should vigorously mandate “neat,” “modest” and “respectable.” These are essential expectations. Denying the option of neatly, modestly and respectfully showcasing the heritage of their hair, however, reinforces a wickedly pervasive narrative that black success must be moderated, tame, predictable and nonthreatening.
Why in the world would an all-black administration perpetuate such an insidious agenda??
Our role as educators –educators of black children- is to encourage our young scholars to pursue excellence and challenge them to continually evolve as human beings. Your school dismisses dreadlocks and afros as “fads,” but allows “soft” curls, fades, sprays of barrettes and even synthetic weave to serve as the norm. This messaging is troubling and misguided. Instead of instilling a philosophy of personal pride, you’re imposing the habituation of self-loathing. I trust we can agree that the enormity of our work with young people cannot allow for such a dangerous distraction.
As a peer, and member of the community of youth workers, I urge you to re-evaluate your school’s position on natural hair. Hopefully, straight A students will never have to leave your facility in tears again.
Founder / Director
Still Waters Collective
300 W. Walnut St.
Milwaukee, WI 53212
414.265. 1500 | fax.265.1515