Black Texas Student Suspended for Dreadlocks Hairstyle, School Says It Wasn’t Discrimination
In this photo provided by Darresha George, her son Darryl George, 17, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, sits for a photo showing his locs, at the family's home, September 10, 2023. The same week a state law went into effect prohibiting discrimination on the basis of hair, George was suspended because his locs did not comply with the district's dress code. (Darresha George via AP)
Source: Jamaica Gleaner
The same week his state outlawed racial discrimination based on hairstyles, a black high school student in Texas was suspended because school officials said his locs violated the district’s dress code.
Darryl George, a junior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, received an in-school suspension after he was told his hair fell below his eyebrows and ear lobes.
George, 17, wears his hair in thick twisted dreadlocks, tied on top of his head, said his mother, Darresha George.
George served the suspension last week.
His mother said he plans to return to the Houston-area school Monday, wearing his dreadlocks in a ponytail, even if he is required to attend an alternative school as a result.
The incident recalls debates over hair discrimination in schools and the workplace and is already testing the state’s newly enacted CROWN Act, which took effect September 1.
The law, an acronym for “Create a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is intended to prohibit race-based hair discrimination and bars employers and schools from penalising people because of hair texture or protective hairstyles including Afros, braids, dreadlocks, twists or Bantu knots.
Texas is one of 24 states that has enacted a version of the CROWN Act.
A federal version of the CROWN Act passed in the House of Representatives last year but was not successful in the Senate.
For black people, hairstyles are more than just a fashion statement.
Hair has always played an important role across the black Diaspora, said Candice Matthews, national minister of politics for the New Black Panther Nation. (Her group is not affiliated with another New Black Panther organisation widely considered antisemitic.)
“Dreadlocks are perceived as a connection to wisdom,” Matthews said. “This is not a fad, and this is not about getting attention. Hair is our connection to our soul, our heritage and our connection to God.”
In George’s family, all the men have dreadlocks, going back generations. To them, the hairstyle has cultural and religious importance, his mother said.
“Our hair is where our strength is, that’s our roots,” Darresha George said.
“He has his ancestors locked into his hair, and he knows that.”