Braids or Dreads? You Decide

Phyl Campbell By Phyl Campbell, 8th Sep 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>News>Education

A Tulsa charter school attendee will be looking for a new school over controversy regarding her hair. The charter school includes in its dress code policy a ban against afros, mohawks, dreadlocks, and other styles deemed “faddish”. The 7-year old girl was in violation of this ban for wearing short braids with a pink bow in her hair.

In the Tulsa News and headed National/International

Knowing that I am on the lookout for discrimination in the school-place, a friend was eager to tell me about a news article where a 7 year old little girl was removed from her charter school because her hairstyle violated the school's ban on dreadlocks. The article was local, and now has attracted national attention.

In Support of the School

On one hand, the school may have a point . They have a policy which the parents violated. (The policy wording can be found on pages 13-14 of the handbook, and I suppose we should overlook the misspelling of the plural ownership form of "girls'" in said handbook. We should also overlook the girl on the school's homepage (see the section "Passion") who is clearly sporting dreadlocks by the school's definition that sent the girl home, though they also look like braids or cornrows to my untrained eye.) If they think they put their daughter in dreadlocks, and dreadlocks are not allowed by the school, then they willfully violated the school’s policy. It would have been better, if they disagreed with the policy, to address the policy before sending their child to school in a non-approved style. Although rules seem silly, the slippery-slope from allowing one style and not another can lead to problems. Although appearance should not matter, we know it often does. If the purpose of the charter-school’s policy is to improve self-esteem by ensuring that everyone look or dress professionally, then they are right to enforce rules that were thoughtfully created and agreed upon by all the members.

(Image: MorgueFile)

In support of the girl, her family, and braids

On the other hand, there are dreadlocks and then there are dreadlocks. Braids called dreadlocks can be part of a beautiful (often ethnic) hairstyle. Another type of dreadlock includes the dirty, unkempt style made popular by some rappers, gang members, and Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow. If braided hair is not banned, then the slippery slope is already created.

Additionally, the charter school is a public school that accepts federal funding. As such, does it have the right to ban a hairstyle recognized as ethnic? There are several groups, including the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus (where several members have already weighed in) and perhaps even school supporter Langston University (an officially black college where many members have gone on to become members of the OLBC), who want to take another look at the policy and insure that diversity is not being trampled for the benefit of a uniform policy.

(Image: Wikipedia)

My Humble Opinion

In this 7-year-old little girl’s case, this is semantics. Clearly, she is wearing her hair in cute braids. IMHO, girls wear braids, and “dreadlocks” is a term used to describe the hairstyle of men who wear their hair in braids without calling the style “braids.” And if the policy is meant to keep young boys from styling their hair in unkempt ways, my semantics work to support both the policy and the little girl at the same time.

At any rate, I hope the little girl can find a place at school where she can learn safely and happily, because I think there are few worse things than being deprived of an education based on some aspect of the way she looks.

(Image: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.)

Weigh In

So tell me what you think about the charter school policy. Or:
If you're new to Wikinut, write an article: Click here to get started.
If you want to read more about unfair school policies, click here and here.

If you want to read more about other unfair policies I have encountered, and how I have dealt with them, click here or here.

Enjoy! And weigh in!


Braids Dreadlocks, Ethnic Style, Hairstyles, Hairstyles For African American Hair, Tulsa News

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

Share this page

moderator johnnydod moderated this page.
If you have any complaints about this content, please let us know


author avatar cnwriter..carolina
8th Sep 2013 (#)

what a great crusader you are Phyl...thanks much....

Reply to this comment

author avatar Stella Mitchell
9th Sep 2013 (#)

It is pathetic when braids ( plaits to us Brits ) are considered in the same league as dreadlocks . Do people get paid for making these decisions ?
Well pointed out Phil
Bless you
Stella ><

Reply to this comment

author avatar Phyl Campbell
9th Sep 2013 (#)

Yes, plaits is another very good word to describe such a hairstyle. I ought to have included it. Thanks, Stella!

Reply to this comment

author avatar LoverOfGOD
26th Sep 2013 (#)

Subconsciously were told how to look everyday and what is socially acceptable. But this goes to far because it points to a specific race. African Americans who choose to go natural and dismiss the relaxers (perms) have no choice but to wear dreads, afros or braids. Its a direct violation of human rights. That's my opinion.

Reply to this comment

author avatar Phyl Campbell
26th Sep 2013 (#)

I absolutely agree.

Reply to this comment

Add a comment
Can't login?