Story of my life: Teacher tells adorable black child her dreadlocks are “distracting”

Via Raw Story

Via Raw Story

The more things change, the more they stay the racist same.  I was the only black person in my grade until high school so the story of Tianna Parker, a 7 year old girl from Tulsa, Oklahoma broke my heart.  This poor child was sent home from school because teachers consider “dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.” Show me the tape of little Jimmy with the fohawk being sent home in tears and I might not be so upset (I’d still be upset)?!

Via Raw Story:

A father in Oklahoma said this week that he was forced to pull his daughter out of classes after the charter school she was attending sent her home for having the wrong hairstyle.

Terrance Parker told KOKI that he is a barber and he always made sure that his 7-year-old daughter, Tiana, had an appropriate haircut for school.

“She’s always presentable,” he explained. “I take pride in my kids looking nice.”

Officials from Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa declined speak to the station on camera, but the school policy states that “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks, and other faddish styles are unacceptable.”

KOKI reported that the “school feels that could distract from the respectful and serious atmosphere it strives for.”

No wonder you have people like comedian Sheryl Underwood slamming natural hair and calling it disgusting.  She must have grown up in Tulsa.

Or where I grew up where I had to either deal with teachers not understanding my hair, or the other children touching my hair without permission.  The latter still happens to me today.  This story makes me sad for the Tiana Parkers of the world because it’s the ignorance of adults which could strip just a little of this girl’s self-esteem. Let’s hope that doesn’t stick.

Join the Conversation

  • Jennifer Franzese

    Here’s the thing with this. They are also saying that mohawks are unacceptable. But I really don’t see how locks are a problem. I really dont’ see why an afro would be a problem. My daughter is mixed but she is WHITE. She got all of my color in skin, hair and eyes but she has that tight curly and a little bit dry hair and I like it so I let it grow. I comb it every day before school but it is by ALL means an afro! But because her skin is white and her eyes are green, I wonder if this school would say “oh such beautiful curly hair” or they would say to her “your afro is distracting, go home”. I hate to say this but I bet it would be the first. My daughter attends a private Christian School which is mixed with every beautiful color of skin that God gave to us and they would never do such a thing! This is outrageous!

    • Jennifer Franzese

      I would also like to add that I think this little girl’s hair looks beautiful and I hope that the parents choose to change her school and teach her that no one has the right to tell her she is anything less than beautiful in the eyes of God and in flesh. Such a beautiful child and such a shame that her parents have to have this “talk” with her at such a young age.

  • Parker Dockray

    Awful. I was surprised and saddened to see that the leadership of this school is almost entirely Black or African American.

  • Taylor

    That is disgustingly racist. Honestly it’s just like saying “No curly hair” or “all hair must be straight”. How ridiculous. I’d be outraged.

  • ProgressiveJones

    How interesting that a school would describe heritage hairstyles like dreads and afros as “faddish.” At first, I thought that this was just an issue of white people not understanding black people’s hair, but then I see that the school this child attends is a charter school sponsored by Langston University, which is primarily attended by black students, taught by black faculty, and with black faculty and staff. The kids wear uniforms. There are rules about what color shoes they’re allowed to wear. There are probably all kinds of rules about socks, make-up, etc. When you send your kids to private schools, your kids have private school rules they have to follow. Just look at the photos on this school’s web site. There are children in braids and curls and coils and twists and every manner of natural style. (

    I don’t think this is a racism issue. I think it’s a power issue. This child’s father did her hair. The school says her dreads don’t conform with the school’s uniform. The child’s father didn’t say, “But dreadlocks are a reflection of her heritage and therefore I insist that she be permitted to wear her hair in this traditional style!” Instead, he said that he was a barber student and his children’s hair always looked presentable. This isn’t about Tiana. It’s about her dad saying, When you spurn my child’s hair you spurn me as a barber and a father and a man! and, then, to prove his point, he pulls his child out of school and away from her friends to make his point.