A Black Student Faces Double Suspension Over Hairstyle: School Denies Discrimination

by Joshua Brown
Hair Discrimination

In a disconcerting incident that has reignited the debate over hair discrimination in schools, a Black high school student in Texas found himself suspended not once but twice over his choice of hairstyle. The school administration at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, defended their actions, asserting that it was not an act of discrimination.

Darryl George, a 17-year-old junior at the school, was first suspended last week for wearing his hair in twisted dreadlocks, which were tied on top of his head. This initial suspension came during the same week that Texas outlawed racial discrimination based on hairstyles. School officials argued that his dreadlocks extended beyond his eyebrows and ear lobes, thus violating the school district’s dress code.

His mother, Darresha George, expressed her dismay at the situation, revealing that Darryl had to endure hours of in-school suspension, sitting on an uncomfortable stool in a cubicle. She added, “Every day he’d come home, he’d say his back hurts because he has to sit on a stool.”

This incident brings to the forefront the recently enacted CROWN Act (Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair), which took effect in Texas on September 1st. The CROWN Act aims to prohibit race-based hair discrimination, safeguarding individuals from penalties related to their hair texture or protective hairstyles, including Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists, or Bantu knots. Texas is among 24 states that have implemented a version of this legislation.

For many Black individuals, hairstyles are more than just a matter of personal choice; they hold deep cultural and religious significance. Candice Matthews, the national minister of politics for the New Black Panther Nation, emphasized that “Dreadlocks are perceived as a connection to wisdom” and that hair serves as a link to one’s heritage and spirituality.

In the George family, dreadlocks are a tradition spanning generations, symbolizing cultural continuity and spiritual connection. Darresha George emphasized, “Our hair is where our strength is, that’s our roots. He has his ancestors locked into his hair, and he knows that.”

Historically, hairstyles such as braids served as forms of communication in African societies, identifying tribal affiliations and conveying information about marriage status and safety. Even after the abolition of slavery, Black Americans’ hair remained a contentious issue, with societal pressures to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards persisting.

This isn’t the first time Barbers Hill High School has faced controversy over its dress code. In 2020, the school drew national attention when it required another Black male student to cut his dreadlocks to return to school or participate in graduation.

Greg Poole, the district superintendent, defended the school’s policies, viewing them as a means to instill discipline and prepare students for the future. He argued that conformity and sacrifice benefit everyone in the long run.

However, Allie Booker, the attorney representing the George family, disputed the school’s stance, asserting that hair length is an integral part of a hairstyle and is thus protected under the law. She vowed to continue the fight against such discriminatory policies.

Darresha George, standing firmly with her son, refused to accept standards set by those who may not understand or appreciate their cultural heritage. She stated, “My son is well-groomed, and his hair is not distracting from anyone’s education. This has everything to do with the administration being prejudiced toward Black hairstyles, toward Black culture.”

Darryl George’s situation has garnered support from young Black people across the nation who have faced similar discriminatory dress codes and comments about their hair. The case underscores the importance of legislation like the CROWN Act in challenging and rectifying hair discrimination in educational institutions and workplaces.

This incident serves as a stark reminder that the battle against racial discrimination, even in seemingly mundane matters like hairstyles, is far from over. The George family’s struggle is a testament to their determination to protect their cultural heritage and uphold their rights in the face of adversity.

[Note: This article is based on real events and statements reported in the provided news article.]

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Hair Discrimination

Q: What is the CROWN Act mentioned in the article?

A: The CROWN Act stands for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” It is a piece of legislation aimed at prohibiting race-based hair discrimination. It prevents employers and schools from penalizing individuals based on their hair texture or protective hairstyles, such as Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists, or Bantu knots.

Q: Why was Darryl George suspended from school?

A: Darryl George, a Black high school student in Texas, was suspended twice over his hairstyle. School officials claimed that his twisted dreadlocks, tied on top of his head, violated the school district’s dress code, as they extended below his eyebrows and ear lobes.

Q: What cultural significance does the dreadlock hairstyle hold for Darryl George and his family?

A: For Darryl George and his family, dreadlocks have deep cultural and religious importance. They view dreadlocks as a connection to wisdom and a symbol of their heritage. The hairstyle is seen as a way to honor their ancestors and maintain a spiritual connection.

Q: How has the CROWN Act impacted the situation?

A: The CROWN Act, which took effect in Texas and several other states, was designed to prevent hair discrimination. However, in Darryl George’s case, there appears to be a dispute regarding whether the act should protect the length of his dreadlocks, as the school argued that it did not cover hair length.

Q: What is the school’s justification for its dress code policies?

A: The school district argues that its dress code policies are meant to instill discipline, teach grooming and hygiene, prevent disruptions, avoid safety hazards, and instill respect for authority among students. The superintendent believes that conformity and sacrifice are beneficial for the students and contribute to the district’s academic success.

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Sam2023 September 18, 2023 - 5:31 pm

Can’t believe this still happens today. Discrimination got no place, especially in schools. #JusticeForDarryl

Alex September 19, 2023 - 12:57 pm

Darn, this dress code stuff is real cray. Like, seriously, schools shud let ppl express themselves, ya know? #HairFreedom


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