Schools Criticized for Bans on Deadlocks, Afros

USA Today, September 26, 2013

“Why are you so sad?” a TV reporter asked the little girl with a bright pink bow in her hair.

“Because they didn’t like my dreads,” she sobbed, wiping her tears. “I think that they should let me have my dreads.”

With those words, second-grader Tiana Parker of Tulsa, Okla., found herself, at age 7, at the center of decades of debate over standards of black beauty, cultural pride and freedom of expression.

It was no isolated incident at the predominantly black Deborah Brown Community School, which in the face of outrage in late August apologized and rescinded language banning dreadlocks, Afros, mohawks and other “faddish” hairstyles it had called unacceptable and potential health hazards.

A few weeks earlier, another charter school, the Horizon Science Academy in Lorain, Ohio, sent a draft policy home to parents that proposed a ban on “Afro-puffs and small twisted braids.” It, too, quickly apologized and withdrew the wording.

But at historically black Hampton University in Hampton, Va., the dean of the business school has defended and left in place a 12-year-old prohibition on dreadlocks and cornrows for male students in a leadership seminar for MBA candidates, saying the look is not businesslike.


In New York City, the dress code at 16-year-old Dante de Blasio’s large public high school in Brooklyn includes no such hair restrictions. Good thing for Dante, whose large Afro is hard to miss at campaign stops and in a TV spot for his father, Bill de Blasio, who is running for mayor.

There is no central clearinghouse for local school board policies on hairstyles, or surveys indicating whether such rules are widespread. Regardless, mothers of color and black beauty experts consider the controversies business as usual.

“Our girls are always getting messages that tell them that they are not good enough, that they don’t look pretty enough, that their skin isn’t light enough, that their hair isn’t long enough, that their hair isn’t blond enough,” said Beverly Bond of the New York-based esteem-building group Black Girls Rock.

“The public banning of our hair or anything about us that looks like we look, it feels like it’s such a step backward.”


In Chicago, Leila Noelliste has been blogging about natural hair at for about five years. She has followed the school cases closely. The 28-year-old mother with a natural hairstyle and two daughters who also wear their hair that way said it is a touchy issue among African-Americans and others.

“This is the way the hair grows out of my head, yet it’s even shocking in some black communities, because we’ve kind of been told culturally that to be acceptable and to make other people kind of comfortable with the way that we look, we should straighten our hair, whether through heat or chemicals,” she said. “So whether we’re in non-black communities or black communities, with our natural hair, we stand out. It evokes a lot of reaction.”

Particularly painful, said Noelliste and others, is the notion that natural styles are not hygienic.

“Historically natural hair has been viewed as dirty, unclean, unkempt, messy,” she said. “An older black generation, there’s this idea of African-American exceptionalism, that the way for us to get ahead is to work twice as hard as any white person and to prove that if we just work hard and we look presentable we’ll get ahead, and that’s very entrenched. My generation, we’re saying that that’s not fair. We should be able to show up as we are and based on our individual merit and effort be judged on that.”


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  • dd121

    “Deadlocks” may be more accurate anyway.

  • Puggg

    I wonder how this is going to be the fault of white people.

    • Sue

      Because we oppressed them their hair went nappy.

      • borogirl54

        Their hair was always nappy. They used relaxers or hot combs to straighten their hair. Now they also get weaves, which is hair, often from India, sewn over their natural hair.

      • gemjunior

        LMAO, out loud. Dat wuz whut dun had happin’ wuz we wuz opress’ by de white people. An dat dun had cause us so much suffrin dat it went right to our haid and cause it to git nappy an whatnot.

  • MekongDelta69

    For those who don’t know Bill de Blasio (who is to the left of being a socialist) and his Sly Stone afro-spouting, half-black kid Dante, check out NoBama’s praise of Dantavious’ ‘fro:


    • Oil Can Harry

      The caption should read : “Herman Munster standing between two juvenile mulattoes.”

    • Katherine McChesney

      Afros always looked filthy and unkempt to me.

  • Spartacus

    “…African-American exceptionalism…”


    Anybody else broke a rib laughing when they read this ?

    • leftists are delusional

      They have exceptionally high – crime achievements and STD rates.
      And you have to admit, in sports that do not require mental acumen they do very well.

    • itdoesnotmatter

      ..”.African-American exceptionalism…”

      Me, me, me! Spartacus, I broke several ribs larffin me bum off.
      In fact, just got home from the E.R.

    • Andy

      In American education, “exceptional” is now a euphemism for “mentally retarded”.

    • APaige

      And the increasingly common mantra of ‘working twice as hard’, I have yet to see an black work half as hard as any other race.

  • tech

    Where blacks get the idea that they have to work twice as hard as whites to make it in life/work, I will never know. They are so delusional.

    • Katherine McChesney

      Interesting, considering they work twice as hard committing murders, rapes, theft and assaults.

      • Puggg

        They say they have to work 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 times as hard as a white person to get the same distance, but then they lounge around. What they work harder at than white people is complaining about all the hard work they don’t do.

    • CoweringCoward

      Well, when you are blessed with an IQ so much lower than your competition, you probably would have to work a lot harder, not more productive or as productive mind you but harder none the less. Not that I have seen any blacks that were willing to put in that kind of effort.

  • ncpride

    “Our girls are always getting messages that tell them that they are not good enough, that they don’t look pretty enough, that their skin isn’t light enough, that their hair isn’t long enough, that their hair isn’t blond enough,”

    That’s probably true, however they get that message almost exclusively from their OWN. I’ve heard them talk to each other about light skin v/s dark skin,(the lighter skin obviously more desirable), straight hair v/s ‘natural’…etc. It’s dishonest for them to say they feel ‘compelled’ to conform to a certain look to fit into society, when they actually WANT to look ‘more White’..

    • borogirl54

      Back in the day, many black organizations and social clubs required new members to pass the “paper bag” test. A person had to be lighter than a brown paper bag to get in.

    • Sick of it

      If they wanted to look more white, they wouldn’t marry down in the black community to maintain their blackness.

      • ncpride

        I don’t think black females have a whole lot of choices.

  • 1proactive2

    Never get in the way of a black, regardless of age, when “day be stylin'”. They’ll kill you over it. They also believe, wholesale, that rules do not apply to them.

    They want what they want, when they want it, and they want it now.
    See also, “pre-adolescent”.

  • Skip Wellington

    Who says an infestation of lice vis a vis dreadlocks is any less hygienic?


  • borogirl54

    What these people need to realize is that no one is going to hire you, regardless of race, if you show up at the job interview with dreadlocks, braids or a Mohawk. I have seen whites with dreadlocks and they look just as bad as blacks. But the blacks will claim discrimination.

    • ncpride

      I actually think dreadlocks look worse on Whites.

      • borogirl54

        I agree with you. The whites I have seen with dreadlocks look dirty.

        • Non Humans

          They are dirty. Theres no way to wash nappy locks. And the smell is absolutely putrid.

        • Sick of it

          Yep, I’ve seen dirty hippy chicks with dreads.

        • Xerxes22

          It also makes them look like wiggers and no one likes a wigger.

      • NorthSea

        Europoids with dreadlocks have deeper racial confusion than just hairstyle.

    • Greg Thomas

      Unless they are applying for a job with the Department of Energy. Then dreadlocks and braids are welcomed, in their quest for more diversity.

    • MBlanc46

      Whites look even worse with dreads.

  • Funruffian

    I’ve seen these Medusa headed Homo Erectus creatures meandering around school campuses and disrupting the classrooms for several years.

  • IstvanIN

    No matter what they do most blacks will never be pretty, or handsome, or attractive. Their skin, hair and facial features have too much of a primitive or unevolved look. That being said I always felt the best looking hairdo on a black girl was a short, neat Afro. All the other styles look too fake and tortured. And the polyester wigs are terrible.

  • Sick of it

    Dreadlocks came from the Caribbean, not America. If you want to wear dreadlocks in school so bad, move there.

  • Afros, dreadlocks, cornrows.

    For as time consuming and convoluted as is the process to clean and warsh hair so “styled,” I just cannot comprehend the wisdom in getting your hair so “styled.” Then again, I have a developed frontal lobe.

    • An afro isn’t “styled”; their hair just grows that way naturally. They evolved in the dry bushland of Africa with scorching sun, so this was nature’s “grow your own hat” deal. When I was very little, I once asked my mother why black people did “that” with their hair. I was simply astounded when she told me it grows that way.

      If I were black, I would be tempted to try topiary (hedge sculpture) with my hair.

  • GeneticsareDestiny

    “But at historically black Hampton University in Hampton, Va., the dean of the business school has defended and left in place a 12-year-old prohibition on dreadlocks and cornrows for male students in a leadership seminar for MBA candidates, saying the look is not businesslike.”

    Good for Hampton University. Black business students are probably going to be more successful in the real world as businessmen if they keep their hair neat and professional. The school sounds like whatever other faults it may have, it’s at least trying to do right by its students.

  • jeffaral

    Instead of trying to emulate Whites, Blacks should go back to their roots. Nothing looks more ridiculous than straight hair in Blacks. Be proud of who you are!


    “We should be able to show up as we are and based on our individual merit and effort be judged on that.”

    You might be able to do this in a perfect world where everyone is non-judgmental, but in this world there is a problem with her desires. I had an otherwise intelligent employee once who dressed like a bloomin’ dandelion. He was Caucasian, and even other Caucasian employees thought he was nuts. There was nothing I could do about it because we had no dress code. But, he did give me pause to think why people put so much emphasis on judging others by their personal appearance. I concluded that dressing in an outlandish fashion conveyed the message, “I don’t care what you think about me.” And when that is your message, intended or not, the conclusion others come to is, “I don’t care about you.” This might not be so bad for someone working by himself in a warehouse and isolated from the public, but it is not a message an employer wants conveyed to his paying customers.

    P.S. My hair doesn’t grow combed out of my head, so I shouldn’t comb it? Gimme a break.

  • There isn’t much one can do with natural African hair, so cornrows or deadlocks make a lot of sense. I don’t think it is reasonable to punish a little girl for this. One’s choice of a hairstyle is a very individualistic thing, but much of what constitutes Political Correctness is an obsessive-compulsive focus on appearances: form over substance in all things, and consequent destruction of individualism.

    I think this school district is tacitly admitting that they can not give blacks a useful education, but in order to show how hard they are working, the officials cracked down on an irrelevant issue like hair.

  • 1proactive2

    Imagine if blacks focused at least as much effort at learning as they do about their appearance.

  • [Guest]

    >>>“Historically natural hair has been viewed as dirty, unclean, unkempt, messy.”

    —black-hair expert Leila Noelliste

    I’m no expert on high fashion, so I’ll have to ask which hairstyle Africans in their native habitat traditionally wear—afros, cornrows, or dreadlocks?

    >>>…the notion that natural styles are not hygienic…

    Do you have a notion where Africans rank on the scale of bodily cleanliness, Leila?

    African hair rinse: