Last Monday, Vanessa VanDyke said she was given one week to decide to whether cut and straighten her hair, or face expulsion from Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, Florida. It’s a private school that 12-year-old VanDyke has attended since the third grade. So what’s the big deal, and why doesn’t she just comply with the school’s decisions? I mean, it would be a lot easier if she just did what they asked, right? After all, the only reason any school official said anything was in light of VanDyke coming to them with a complaint of being bullied by other kids over her hair.
But for now, she and her mother do not plan to change her hair because it is part of the 12-year-old’s identity. But her natural hair style comes with a cost.
“It says that I’m unique,” said VanDyke. “First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”
VanDyke said that first the teasing from other students, but now, school leaders seem to be singling her out for her appearance.
Faith Christian Academy has a dress code and rules against how students can wear their hair. The student handbook reads: “Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction,” and goes on to state examples that include, but are not limited to, mohawks, shaved designs and rat tails.
“A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another,” said VanDyke’s mother, Sabrina Kent. “You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?”
VanDyke said she’s had her large, natural hair all year long, but it only became an issue after the family complained about students teasing her about her hair. (source)
Now I really hate to throw up a black fist and hit y’all with that Malcolm X line, “Who taught you to hate yourself?” So, I’ll spare you that type of radical but “conscious” talk intended to awake the deaf, dunb, and blind among us. That would be, the white folks who refuse to understand the part they play in the destruction of the minds of people of color by forcing them to reject any semblance of self. You know, sort of the way this played out in the story above? Yep, VanDyke was told to just straighten your hair and all would be well. Never mind her sense of pride, identity, or individuality. Nope, none of that matters when it is easier to erase that “black is beautiful” nonsense that some of us refuse to let go.
Watch the video below: