As a naturalista going back to school, you might be feeling the anticipation of summer coming to an end, excitement about reuniting with your friends, and stress about getting back into the grind of studying every day. You might also be nervous about how everyone will react to your natural hair.
Given what we saw Tiana Parker, and Vanessa VanDyke go through simply because they wore their hair the way it naturally grows out of their heads, you might be feeling slightly on edge. This is completely understandable and is a valid reaction to having to exist within a system that is supposed to nurture individuality, help you find your voice, and support your future dreams. Instead, schools have done the complete opposite by making hair discrimination official policy. Tiana Parker was sent home from school because the Deborah Brown Community School she attended had a dress code rule that labeled her loc’d hair “unacceptable.” Vanessa VanDyke was threatened with expulsion from her Orlando, Fla private school unless she styled her hair differently than the glorious afro with a flower she wore.
These are two hair shaming cases that made the headline news, but there are no statistics for the multitude of other situations many naturalistas experience every day. Daily microaggressions and outright discrimination are hard to determine. From my own experience being natural, I am certain the numbers are staggering for those of us who refuse to conform to a Euro-centric beauty standard.
Being socially rejected because of your hair can weigh heavy on your self-esteem. Hopefully, some of the many online tutorials on natural hair styles themed around Back to School, will help relieve some of your fears around how you will be treated simply because of your beautiful tresses. There are also some fabulous celebrity naturalistas to look to for inspiration, like Solange Knowles, Tamron Hall, and Lupita Nyong’o. Even though Vanessa VanDyke was threatened with expulsion, she still knew her hair was beautiful when she stated, “It says that I’m unique…First of all, it’s puffy, and I like it that way.”
I also want you to know that you are not alone, there are many other naturalistas out there going through the same thing you are right now. What I want you to remember is that your hair is perfect, just the way it is! But you already knew that being the confident naturalista that you are 🙂 As you walk through the doors of your school for another year of learning, wear your hair proudly and hold your head high!
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