Some of you may have heard the story of seven-year-old Tiana Parker being sent home from school for wearing her hair in locs (a violation of some moronic school policy, apparently.) Instead of changing their daughter's hair to what school officials at the time deemed appropriate, Tiana's parents wisely decided to remove her from the school. You can read more details about the incident here.
I'm seriously confused by the idea that Tiana's hairstyle could be condemned as "faddish". According to the dictionary, the word fad means "a temporary fashion, notion, manner of conduct, etc." Yet locs didn't come into style yesterday; I'm pretty sure they've been popular since before the Pharoahs were building pyramids. I can attest from personal experience that they're not a fad; I went to school with lots of Islander and African-American kids in South Florida, and many wore their hair in dreads (that was what we called locs in my youth.) That was forty years ago -- and since locs have been a popular hairstyle long before that and ever since, how could anyone consider them a temporary fashion? I mean, besides a bunch of ignorant racists using idiotic rules to hurt a child?
Dr. Yaba Blay, co-director and assistant teaching professor of Africana studies at Drexel University, also heard about Tiana's story, and reached out with this essay on the incident, as well as a beautiful collection of letters and photographs for Tiana herself. Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet Alice Walker (who also wears her hair in locs) is among the contributors. Reading through all the messages and seeing all the lovely photos of ladies in locs really made my day. I'm not surprised so many took the time to open their hearts to this little girl, though -- it demonstrates the power of love over the prejudice, and why it is so important to be who you are, not what others want you to be. And isn't that what we should be teaching our kids?