A Black Cincinnati couple recently had their children barred from their private school--not because they have the virus, or behavioral problems, but because they have a natural Black hairstyle: locs.
Christina and Nate Johnson were told their two children, Asten, 6, and Arrison, 3, were not welcome at Zion Temple Christian Academy because of their hairstyle, despite the fact that Asten wore the same hairstyle last year.
'Supposed to be accepting': Private school forces out Black children with locks, parents say https://t.co/UP0Evpor3j— Enquirer (@Enquirer) 1597716123.0
Locs are a natural hair style for Black people, and Christina and Nate both wear it themselves. And their children love the hairstyle because it makes them look like their parents. As Christina told The Cincinnati Enquirer:
"[Asten] looks in the mirror every single day and tells me how long his hair has grown."
But according to the school's dress code policy, boys are forbidden from having "braids, design cuts or Mohawk hairstyles."
None of those definitions apply to Asten or Arrison's hair, but the code also stipulates that "hair must be cut one inch short." Neither child wears his hair long, like his parents do, but when Asten's hair is wet, it extends down to his eyes.
Christina is deeply dismayed by the school's decision, especially given the demographic the school primarily serves.
"What's disheartening about Zion Temple is it's in the middle of a Black community, and it's a predominantly Black school. How can you not accept your own people?"
Discrimination based on hair is a common experience for Black people. So common in fact, that California and New York both recently passed state laws making the practice illegal.
Cincinnati has a similar law, in fact, but it includes an exemption for religious groups, so it does not apply to schools like Zion.
Christina told The Enquirer she felt the hair rules outlined in the school's dress code were implicitly directed at Black children.
"I just don't understand how you can be an African American facility that promotes kings and queens in the heart of a black community, and then you discriminate against people who look like the community."
On Twitter, many people were outraged by the Johnsons' story.
I’m 10 toes down behind my family!!! This is ridiculous!! Grateful that’s it getting coverage!! https://t.co/94GCEzw8F9— KarmaKarmm 🌙 (@KarmaKarmm 🌙) 1597784717.0
The single most incidious thing about white supremacy is that in its evolution, it no longer requires primarily whi… https://t.co/ry7G36Savc— Harriet Tubman’s Bullet (@Harriet Tubman’s Bullet) 1597760965.0
Yet another case of hair discrimination, and headline should read *locs* not "locks"....... "'Supposed to be accep… https://t.co/GLVfBsR6cN— Fannie Lou Heather (@Fannie Lou Heather) 1597748539.0
Despicable... https://t.co/ugHMf37m7r— Robert Scott Gaddy (@Robert Scott Gaddy) 1597772106.0
Schools denying students education because of their hair style... I call it racism and it should be punished! https://t.co/JafyAFnS01— Leticia (@Leticia) 1597757064.0
We still doing this in 2020😡? https://t.co/5gaiUOXuOg— Tonya Satchell (@Tonya Satchell) 1597796363.0
@USATODAY Some things I’ll never understand. I get looking professional and “kept up” BUT we as black people have t… https://t.co/guO7OrHQxt— Angel Lee (@Angel Lee) 1597770624.0
When will this nonsense stop? Humans come in many colors, sizes and textures. Stop hating on the ones that don’t re… https://t.co/4zTVercqQl— Hiltegard (@Hiltegard) 1597771630.0
Can't even send our kids to private school without a hassle. https://t.co/sYnFGGtlHg— MikeHoncho (@MikeHoncho) 1597770901.0
Natural Black hair is still being policed and vilified....even when the school is in a Black community. Shameful! https://t.co/6k6B2jpMU7— Runnergal4life #BidenHarris 💚💕 - 💛 🐝 (@Runnergal4life #BidenHarris 💚💕 - 💛 🐝) 1597783117.0
In the end, the Johnsons have chosen to send their children elsewhere--Asten to a public school nearby, and Arrison to a babysitter in a nearby town, which extends their father's commute by 90 mins.
"I'm going do whatever I need to do for my kids. It's just unfortunate because of a hairstyle. You're supposed to be accepting. Come as you are."
The family has stated that they would not return to Zion even if they changed their hair policy.