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Our Hair, Our Rights

I remember in the late 90s and early 2000s when I was a master hair braider. Two days a week I braided some college guy friends' hair in my dorm room and on Saturdays, I braided neighborhood guy friends' hair in my parents' basement all day long, 9a to 5p. Cornrows were in. All the rappers had them. But as they began to graduate from college, they cut their hair or loc it because cornrows were not considered "professional" hairstyles for men.

Everyone was happy back then. We *rubs melanin on hand* were happy because we had good paying jobs and felt accepted into society. They *points to palm* were happy because we were living up to the standards set for us and not questioning the standards. Usher in the widespread use of social media, the age of viral videos, and "woke" black folk. African American women had already started growing out our relaxers and making kinky fros, twisted up dos, braided styles and wavy edges the new normal in the workplace. More and more of us were tired of torturing ourselves to force our hair to do something Jehovah had not intended for it to do, be straight. We were embracing our kinks and curls. The powerful, white man in charge was just gonna have to deal with the aesthetics of it all because, let's face it, black girls are magic. So, if he had to compromise his standards of straight hair in order to reap the benefits of our talents, then so be it.

But it's not about hair, hairstyles, hair texture, appearance, it's about embracing who we are and
telling the "system" to deal with it. During slavery and the Jim Crow era, much of the culture that enforced our inner royalty was made "illegal", but you can't hold a true king or queen down. We're going to shine regardless of the circumstance. Be it a hairstyle, clothes, the way we sing, or how we run a board meeting. We got royalty, it's in our DNA. You can see it. We're woke. We're speaking out. So what does the "system" do? Try to bring our children down.

Let's face it, the American education system is not designed to make our kids prosper. It is designed to keep them in check. Think about how slow the system is to adapt to new advances in technology and the economy. Think about how most public school systems are underfunded. Think about how poorly teachers are paid. It's all by design. OUR children are more likely to be disciplined by suspension and end up in juvenile prison than any other group. And just like in the Jim Crow era, blackness is being penalized. But we are tired. We are woke. We aren't standing for it. Any. More.

Then I hear about a child being suspended for wearing a certain hairstyle. Not because she was a distraction in class. Not because she caused harm to another student with her hairstyle. But suspended for the style it was in. And to justify the suspension, they say that it's part of the dress code. No. Just no. Dassit. We are not about to make rules and laws to criminalize and vilify our young boys and girls. Our culture is our culture. How we wear our hair has NOTHING to do with our ability to do anything. Unless, of course the braids are too tight. LOL! That might slow us down for a little bit but then we're back to business when they loosen up.

People of color are magic. Black hair is magic. Racism and discrimination is real. The dress code policy enforced leading to that young lady being suspended has since been changed but only after outrage. Click here to read the story. We have to continue to voice our outrage and fight the system that was built to keep us down. Kudos to those families that resisted and brought change to that school. Hopefully, schools who have similar policies will revisit their stance without as much drama. You have set a great example for your sons and daughters. They know we have their back. They know that you have to speak up when something is not right and challenge the policies in place that try to make us compromise who we are.

You can't tame magic.



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