A Texas mother is refusing to conform to what she calls “racist” policies implemented by her son’s school, which sent a letter home ahead of Christmas break demanding the first-grader cut his dreads. The order didn’t sit well with the boy’s mother, Tiffany Brown, who blasted the hair policy in a series of tweets. “What I didn’t sign up for is RACISM,” wrote Brown, an author and mother of three. “I will not cut his hair. He doesn’t want it cut, so why should I cut it? How does his hair affect his ability to learn?” Brown said before winter break her son Jonathan brought
home a flyer from Spring Valley Elementary School in the Waco suburb of Hewitt outlining the district’s hair and dress code policies. A section of the flyer was highlighted to note that “hair mustn’t be lower than the bottom of the ears or collar …” and that hair “volume” cannot exceed two inches away from the head. What’s worse, a handwritten note was attached instructing Jonathan to “please” cut his hair before school resumed on Jan. 8. Speaking with Texas station WKTX, Brown said she doesn’t even understand how she can reduce the “volume” of her son’s hair and called the new policy outdated. Brown, who also wears her hair natural, said all three of her children have dreadlocks and cited the cultural significance of the hairstyle in the Black community.
The mother said she has never received any warnings about her son’s hair before. “I think that his hair has nothing to do with his ability to learn,” she stated. “The way we express ourselves makes us unique and every child is unique. Hair shouldn’t be in the dress code as far as I’m concerned.” Brown also spoke to Yahoo News about her refusal to cut her son’s hair, pointing out that students of color are often targeted by hair policies because of “norms in our society.” “Because of these norms that are blinding people in our society, some people have stated that dreadlocks are a fashion statement and my child should conform and express himself when he’s older,” she told the website. “Dreadlocks are a part of my African culture, not a fashion statement.” “Dreadlocks have been a symbol of beauty and strength for many years,” Brown continued.
“Only recently, people of color / African descent have come to accept and love their natural hair. To hear someone say it is not enough or that my hair should blend with others, that’s not right.” The incident comes weeks after a high school wrestler in New Jersey was forced to cut his dreadlocks minutes before a high-stakes match when a referee decided his hair did not comply with the regulations. A Florida father also filed a legal complaint last year after his son’s private Christian school banned the little boy for wearing dreadlocks. Brown ultimately chose to put her foot down on the matter and sent her son to school Jan. 8 with his dreads still intact. He was called into the office that day, she said, where school officials allegedly discouraged him about keeping his hair. “Jonathan went from loving his hair yesterday to opting to cut his hair today, after this meeting,” Brown told Yahoo News. “Yesterday, he loved his hair and didn’t want it cut; today he’s frustrated and doesn’t, after speaking with a school official.” The frustrated mother said she’s willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the “rights and liberties of every child are respected and protected.”
In a statement, the Midway Independent School District dismissed Brown’s claims of racism and insisted its hair policy is in no way discriminatory. “Since the code applies to all students, it is not discriminatory in intent or by legal standards. students are expected to adhere to the current dress code, which was acknowledged by every student’s guardian at registration,” it read. “However, any parent may submit documentation to the campus administration requesting a possible exemption to the dress and grooming standards for a sincerely held religious belief.” The school added that its hair policy has been criticized in the past and that “male students wanting to have long hair is not new.” Atlanta Back Star reached out to Brown for comment but hasn’t heard back.