In today’s What The Hair news, two Boston area students are facing punishment and backlash at school for wearing, of all things, box braid extensions. Twins Deanna and Mya Cook have already been given detention and could be suspended for violating Mystic Valley Regional Charter School’s hair and dress code.
The school’s interim director Alexander Dan said it prohibits hair extensions “which are expensive and could serve as a differentiating factor between students from dissimilar socioeconomic backgrounds” and to “minimize material differences and distractions,” Dan said
[SEE ALSO: 31 Ways To Rock Your Box Braids]
The students and their adoptive mother Colleen called the policy racist.
“What they’re saying is we can’t wear extensions, and the people who wear extensions are Black people,” Deanna told CBS Boston. “They wear them as braids to protect their hair and they’re not allowing us to do that.”
The school has since doubled down on their policy after the students refused to take out their braids. “I am banned from the track team, I can no longer attend Latin Club and I’m not allowed to go to any other school events,” said Deanna.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice Education Project Director Matthew Cregor sent a letter to the school’s interim director Alexander Dan stating the policy may violate federal anti-discrimination law. The letter called into question inequitable treatment, including how other White students who dyed their hair did not face the same consequence and the cultural significance of braids.
“Unlike the jewelry and nail polish prohibited in your code, braids and extensions are worn primarily by African-American and Afro-Caribbean students, raising concerns of discriminatory treatment,” he wrote. “It is hard to understand how braiding, a deep-rooted cultural practice of people of African descent, can be put in the same category as the ‘drastic and unnatural hair colors’ your code prohibits as ‘distracting.'”
The family has since enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, the Anti-Defamation League and the Attorney General’s office to get the policy changed.
“I’m angry, I feel like my children are beautiful, they’re Black, they should be proud of themselves. I’m very proud of them,” said Colleen.