In a recent incident that has ignited discussions about hair discrimination in schools, a Black high school student in Texas, Darryl George, was suspended for his choice of hairstyle, specifically his dreadlocks. This incident has brought attention to the newly enacted CROWN Act in the state, designed to combat racial-based hair discrimination.
How it Began
Darryl George, a 17-year-old junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, faced an in-school suspension because school officials deemed his dreadlocks too long, falling below his eyebrows and ear lobes.
This situation has sparked a broader conversation about the newly created CROWN Act.
The New Act
The CROWN Act, short for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a recently implemented law in Texas, effective since September 1st.
The legislation is an attempt at ending discrimination based on race-related hair attributes.
Protecting Natural Hair
The act protects individuals from penalties at schools and workplaces for their natural hair texture or protective hairstyles such as Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists, or Bantu knots.
Texas is among the 24 states that have adopted their versions of the CROWN Act, while a federal version passed in the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate.
A Deeper Connection
Candice Matthews, the national minister of politics for the New Black Panther Nation, explains that black individual’s hairstyles hold deeper cultural and spiritual significance.
She emphasizes, “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.”
A Mother’s View
In Darryl George’s family, dreadlocks have been a tradition passed down through generations, carrying both cultural and religious importance.
His mother, Darresha George, says, “Our hair is where our strength is, that’s our roots. He has his ancestors locked into his hair, and he knows that.”
Clashing Beauty Standard
Historically, various African societies used hairstyles like braids to communicate tribal affiliation, marital status, and even as symbols of safety and freedom for those enslaved.
After the abolition of slavery, Black Americans continued to face social and professional stigma for not conforming to European beauty standards.
A Common Issue
The issue of race-based hair discrimination has existed in both workplaces and schools.
In 2018, a white referee in New Jersey ordered a Black high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks or forfeit a match, sparking outrage and leading to the passage of the state’s own CROWN Act.
A Strange Violation
Darresha George revealed that her son had been growing his dreadlocks for nearly a decade without any issues until now. When pinned up, his dreadlocks stayed above his shoulders.
She expressed confusion over how his hair violated the dress code.
The Dress Code
According to the Barbers Hill Independent School District’s student handbook, male students are prohibited from having hair that extends below the eyebrows, ear lobes, or the top of a t-shirt collar.
Additionally, all students must maintain clean, well-groomed, and non-unnatural colored hair without requiring uniforms.
This incident is not the first time the school district has faced controversy over its dress code.
In 2020, another Black male student was told to cut his dreadlocks to attend school or participate in graduation, which garnered national attention.
The School Weighs In
Greg Poole, the district superintendent since 2006, defended the dress code policy, claiming, “When you are asked to conform … and give up something for the betterment of the whole, there is a psychological benefit,” and “We need more teaching (of) sacrifice.”
In response to this controversy, many seem confused as to why the student was ever in trouble and have supported him against the school’s restrictive dress code.
All About Conforming
One social media user commented on Poole’s statement: “The school admits it is all about conformity and authority. They are teaching their students to not question leadership or the rich.”
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Source: NBC News