12 year old Vanessa VanDyke is being threatened with expulsion from Faith Christian Academy in Orlando unless she cuts her natural hair. Hair growing the way it does out of her head is considered a “distraction” by administrators. Yet another young Black girl forced to deal with the beauty politics and the politics of respectability that insist that not being White or adhering to those standards are an automatic detriment to education. Worse, she’s attended this school since 3rd grade and doesn’t want to have to leave her friends though she has been bullied by other kids for her hair. The consistent policing of Black women’s bodies starts young and continues right through college and the workplace. It is tiring and without logic beyond White supremacy, of course.
According to Local 10 in Orlando, she wore her hair like this all year. It’s a problem now because she is being bullied, and in a typical abuse culture riddled with victim blaming, the bullies are who needs to be coddled and protected, not her.
I truly hope that whomever is ignorant on that school’s staff work things out with her parents or she finds a better school, though that will mean making new friends, which is challenging in adolescence at times. My larger hope is that Eurocentric beauty standards continue to unravel and continue to be stomped out of existence.
And nothing is wrong with her wearing her hair loose. Sometimes even Black people who claim to love natural hair only love it when elaborately styled, and those styles are very nice, but not the only way to wear natural hair.
And no Whites, I don’t want to hear about “rules” and “professionalism” until you explore what White supremacy and Whiteness actually mean. And don’t even try to conflate Whites’ mohawks etc. with Black women’s natural hair in an ahistorical way. And no some Black people, I don’t want to hear about perms being more “appropriate” and any respectability politics nonsense, until you explore how you internalize White supremacist thinking. Don’t come here with that.
I wish her and her family the best in this situation.