Black girls just can’t seem to get a break where their hair is concerned. Kemirah Jn-Marie, the only black cheerleader for Ross S. Sterling High School’s varsity squad in Baytown, Texas, learned this lesson the hard way recently.
The school’s rules clearly state that cheerleader’s hair should all be “pulled back in a secure ponytail” and“must not distract from the cheer environment.” However, her coach threatened to not let her participate during an upcoming football game if she showed up wearing the same braids she wore to school, according to ABC13.
“The coach makes it hard to be on varsity,” she said. “She makes me feel bad about myself,” while referencing the coach who she claims has repeatedly been on her case about her hairstyle.
Kemirah says that other girls on the cheer squad are given more flexibility when it comes to their hairstyles.
“She’s been harassed. She’s been bullied by her teacher, and I’m tired of it,” said her mother, Mayra Jn-Marie.
Meanwhile, school officials claim that there’s been no form of harassment or singling out in the incident.
“This student is not the only cheerleader who has been asked to correct her hairstyle, or other parts of her uniform; further, she was in no way reprimanded, punished or kept from participating – she was simply reminded to use the agreed-upon hairstyle,” said Beth Dombrowa, Director of Communications for Goose Creek CISD, in a statement. “In no way do we discriminate, or tolerate, discrimination of any student.”
Regardless of if the school denies any wrongdoing, the entire incident is a glimpse into the way that black features are viewed by the public, especially when they’re in the vast minority. It seems Jn-Marie’s hair fell into the “distracting” category simply for being braided. That, in and of itself is an issue.
Photo Credit: Kemirah Jn-Marie Facebook