This story brings institutional racism to the forefront of the conversation, but at this point, is that to anyone’s surprise?
A family in Hopewell, Virginia said that their seventh grade child was forced to leave his private school because he would not cut his dreadlocks.
Shawn Freeman, the father of the 13-year-old Isaiah Freeman, told the local news station that the administrators at West End Christian School said his son’s hair was too long and violated school policy, even though Isaiah’s hair has been the same length since he was in third grade and this declaration was made three months into the school’s term.
“I was a bit confused because I’ve had it like this for so long,” Isaiah said.
In order to please the school while embracing Isaiah’s individuality, Shawn thought to pulled his locs back in a bun, however the school still disapproved and threatened to discipline him every day he returned to school with his long hair.
The principal, Amy Griggs, told the Huffington Post that the school was trying to compromise with Isaiah’s mother on a style that would keep his hair out of his face until his father got involved and took him out of the school.
“[Students’] haircut can’t be pass the middle of the neck, halfway below the ears, and not below the eyebrows,” Principal Amy Griggs told HuffPost, stating that Isaiah’s hair had grown since the beginning of the school year. “This is across the board for boys in this school.”
Griggs said that both parents and students know what the rules are before they come to school and that they should have acted on it if they had an issue with at the beginning of the year. With all of this, she said that Isaiah was an “exemplary student” and therefore saddened by his departure, but she would not make an exception because the school has asked other male students to cut their hair in the past.
Freeman is currently in the process of finding a new school because he says that this issue is a result of the school administrators “not being culturally aware” and “stereotyping.”
“As he gets older people are uncomfortable with him having dreadlocks and getting older and bigger,” the dad said. “It’s an issue of people feeling uncomfortable with a young black male having dreadlocks and having a certain persona of negativity.”
At this point, if the school board changed the rules, Shawn would not re-enroll Isaiah in the school.
(Photo Credit: Screenshot / YouTube)