Deborah Brown Community School, publicly apologize to Tiana Parker and her family

To: Langston University

In just five days, over 20,000 CREDO activists in Oklahoma and elsewhere signed Wagatwe’s petition and sent the school a powerful message: Telling a 7-year-old girl that her natural hair is "not presentable" is discriminatory and unacceptable. Her petition struck a major nerve and generated local, national and international media attention in outlets like the Tulsa World, MSNBC, Huffington Post and United Press International. On September 9, the independent governing board for Deborah Brown Community School unanimously voted to remove language prohibiting dreadlocks, afros, and other "faddish styles" of hair from its dress code.
Deborah Brown Community School, publicly apologize to Tiana Parker and her family
23,487
of 25,000 signatures
Campaign created by Wagatwe Wanjuki


Deborah Brown Community School must publicly apologize to Tiana Parker and her family, and change their dress code, or have their charter contract terminated.

Why is this important?

Seven year old Tiana Parker, a straight A student, was sent home in tears from her Tulsa, Oklahoma charter school after being told that, according to news reports, her short and tidy dreadlocks "didn't look presentable." [1]

In their policy outlining a dress code designed to "encourage respect and seriousness," the Deborah Brown Community School allows weaves, but declares that "Hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks and other faddish styles are unacceptable."

Though it's not clear what other styles the school might consider faddish, the fact remains that two of the hairstyles spelled out as being unacceptable in this school's policy are worn almost exclusively by African Americans with natural hair. It might as well say that black girls must have their hair chemically straightened or covered with a weave in order to pass muster.

While all young women face crushing pressures to conform to expensive and often unattainable beauty norms, black girls are uniquely singled out to be told that their own natural hair is unacceptable, not presentable, faddish, unserious, and even disrespectful. That this cruelty should be tolerated by public school officials and perpetrated on a seven year old child is no way to teach or model respect for others.

Moreover, it is a violation of this young girl's basic rights.

The school's attitude towards natural African American hair is flatly inappropriate in a public institution in the 21st Century United States of America.

Langston University must insist that the Deborah Brown Community School do what's right, publicly apologize and change this policy, or lose the university's sponsorship for their public charter contract.

[1] - "Tulsa school sends girl home because 'dreadlocks' and 'afros' are too distracting" by David Edwards, Raw Story, September 4, 2013.

http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/09/04/tulsa-school-sends-girl-home-because-dreadlocks-and-afros-are-too-distracting/
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Reasons for signing

  • Nicole K. 2013-09-05 09:28:51 -0700
    Dreads & afros might be "faddish" if worn by a white person, but on a black person they are completely natural and distinctly non-faddish. Forcing black girls to chemically straighten their hair or wear weaves, now that is faddish -- as well as forcing them to conform to a narrow definition of "presentable," as well as being downright bad for their hair and scalp. This is just plain discrimination.
  • Robert M. 2013-09-05 10:02:42 -0700
    7 years of age and being told she's not accepted because of her hair? It's HAIR. SHE is a person. Most 'dress codes' typically are geared toward oppressing people (see also: racism, gender bias, fetishizing, objectification). Nationwide, these codes need to be reviewed and changed due to their negative impacts.
  • Teena N. 2013-09-05 09:54:24 -0700
    While all young women face crushing pressures to conform to expensive and often unattainable beauty norms, black girls are uniquely singled out to be told that their own natural hair is unacceptable, not presentable, faddish, unserious, and even disrespectful. That this cruelty should be tolerated by public school officials and perpetrated on a seven year old child is no way to teach or model respect for others.

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