What Are The Implications Of Black, Natural Hair Discrimination At School And Work?
Earlier this year, high-school students Kaden Bradford and De'Andre Arnold were suspended from Barbers Hill Independent School District, about 40 miles east of Houston. The cause for punishment? Both students wore their hair in long dreadlocks.
According to the district, the hairstyle goes its grooming policy that prohibits male students from having hair "below the top of a t-shirt collar, below the eyebrows, or below the ear lobes."
The district's board voted to keep the dreadlocks ban in place — despite public pushback, national media attention and a lawsuit challenging it. Ultimately, a federal judge ruled the policy is discriminatory.
Why are some dress and grooming codes considered a form of race discrimination? How do micro-aggressive policies affect people of color in schools, in the military and in the workplace?
How can school districts better support students of color who make up a small percentage of predominately-white districts? How can decades-long policy be changed to embrace natural Black hair and hairstyles?
What rights do students, military service members and employees have when it comes to dress and grooming codes? How could state-level legislation help and what is the likelihood of it passing in Texas?
- Lori Tharps, professor of journalism at Temple University; co-author of “Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America” and host of the podcast "My American Meltingpot"
- Mahogane Reed, John Payton Appellate and Supreme Court Advocacy Fellow with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund
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*This interview was recorded on Tuesday, August 25.