I read an article earlier today where a group of black students at the School of Creative Studies in Durham NC were threatened with suspension because they wanted to wear African Geles to school for the month of February.
One of the parents, Afiya Carter, said that her 15 yr old daughter and members of her class were told they would be suspended for violating the dress code of the North Carolina School.
Via The Grio
According to the cited policy, “hats, caps, hoods, sweat bands and bandannas or other head wear worn inside [the] school building” are impermissible, with no exceptions being made for garments worn in with cultural or religious significance.
Monday, parents gathered at the school to chant in protest against Durham County Schools’ dress code policy.
“This is not right. This is not fair. We will not stand for it,” Carter says. “This is about supporting these young people and letting them know that their cultural expression is something to be valued, and value other people’s cultural expressions.”
“It says to me symbolically that our girls — and our boys, as well — have to alter not only their attire, but their whole selves in order to seem less disruptive or offensive,” said Dosali Reed-Bandele, whose daughter was among those reprimanded. “This is utterly ridiculous and I am tired of those messages bombarding our babies day in and day out.”
School officials have since responded with the following:
“I have heard the concerns of parents and community members who feel our policy prohibiting hats and head wear is too strict or that it infringes on student’s cultural expression.
I understand their concerns and assure them that I will share their thoughts with the committee that is currently reviewing and suggesting revisions to our Code of Student Conduct.
In the meantime, I appreciate both the initiative shown by the young women at SCS and the school’s willingness to give these student leaders an opportunity to incorporate their ideas into a school-wide program. The gele, its history and how to wear it are now part of the school’s Black History Month activities for both middle school and high school students.
I can also tell you that SCS had an extensive schedule of Black History Month programs already. Daily seminars for high school students and other activities in middle school. But after meeting with the young women and incorporating their ideas, they’ve added themed Mondays and a Black History announcement as part of the morning messages. The members of the Young Women of Excellence group will be the ones making those announcements.”
Coming from a Catholic School on a small island, we wore a uniform and there were strict rules about how that uniform should be worn by all the girls who attended. We celebrated holidays with one or two days out of the year where we all wore something in celebration of a unified culture.
These days things are a bit different, I do appreciate the compromise of one day a week especially when Black History month is very much a celebration of all aspects of black culture especially through education. What do you think, should the girls be allowed to wear their head wraps all month long?