African American hairstyles have been discriminated against by those in power for too long. Students are now fighting back.
Kaden Bradford, a 16-year-old sophomore studying at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu in Southeast Texas has been on at-home suspension for the past week, his mother Cindy Bradford revealed. And the reason why is ridiculous. His high school administration claimed his hairstyle - that is, dreadlocks - violated the school's dress code. Therefore, he was given an ultimatum. He could either cut off his hair or be suspended indefinitely. Evidently, Bradford chose the latter option. He is not the only student to be suspended for his hairstyle. Earlier this month, his cousin DeAndre Arnold, who goes to the same high school, was suspended for the same reason, Today.com reports.
Hair discrimination is racial discrimination, plain and simple.— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) January 26, 2020
We need to pass the CROWN Act.https://t.co/LNVEcm0MLk
Like Bradford, Arnold too was given an ultimatum. The high school senior could either cut off his hair or be barred from walking at his graduation. As per Arnold, the men in his family grow out their hair into dreadlocks as it is a marker of their identity and culture. Both Arnold's and Bradford's mothers (who happen to be sisters) have asserted that they will not cut their sons' hair. The latter's mother explained that Bradford's hair had not been a problem at his school until recently. Until recently, he would wear a headband to make sure his dreadlocks remained off his shoulders in line with the school's dress code. The school had informed the mother that if he kept his hair pulled back, he would not be violating policy.
Texas teen Deandre Arnold has been suspended over his locs and graduation threatened if he doesn't cut them.— Hello Beautiful (@HelloBeautiful) January 22, 2020
This is reason #278 why we need a federal #CrownAct to be passed because our hair should not stand in the way of our success.
READ MORE: https://t.co/n0nI3w3p3k pic.twitter.com/RzXBLGAXQd
It was right after Christmas break that the school walked back on its previous statement. The school's principal Rick Kana informed Bradford that he would have to cut his hair. His mom even paid to have his dreadlocks put in cornrows - a tightly-braided hairstyle to protect the boy's hair - so his hair would rest flush against his scalp, again, within school policy. However, school administrators were not satisfied with this and thus placed him on at-home suspension after Bradford once again refused to cut his hair. Now, his mom plans to take legal action against the school. She believes the hair policy is racist as it actively discriminates against those with typically African hairstyles. At present, the school district's dress code states that boys cannot have their hair "gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below” the collar, earlobes, and eyes when let down.
The student population at Barbers Hill High School is predominantly White; African-American students make up only about 3.1 percent of the student body (as highlighted by information from the 2017 to 2018 academic year). Both principal Kana and Barbers Hill Independent School District superintendent Greg Poole are yet to comment on the incident. The district, nonetheless, published an official statement on its Twitter account. The district, explaining that it did permit dreadlocks within school policy, added, "However, we DO have a community-supported hair length policy and have had for decades."
But critics of the school administration are not convinced. Among these critics is Senator Cory Booker, who has proposed the first federal legislation that would make hair-based discrimination illegal. He tweeted, "I stand with Deandre and Kaden. Natural hair like dreadlocks is a reflection of culture and heritage. No one should be punished for expressing who they are. The CROWN Act would end this — hair discrimination is discrimination against Black people." The CROWN Act, short for the Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act, will make "discrimination based on natural and protective hairstyles associated with people of African descent [a] prohibited form of racial or national origin discrimination." For now, it appears that Bradford and Arnold will have to battle it out against their discriminatory school district.
Never cut your locks Deandre Arnold.— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) January 22, 2020