'We Were Trying To Avoid A Conflict': School Apologizes After Making Girl Change 'Black Girls Rock' Shirt

| by Sean Kelly
Makiyah-Jae's t-shirtMakiyah-Jae's t-shirt

A Biloxi, Mississippi, elementary school apologized after a girl was forced to change a t-shirt that read “black girls rock.”

Sharika Jolly said her daughter, Makiyah-Jae, was once unhappy about the way she looked, and she wanted to do something to encourage her to be proud of herself, WLOX reports.

“Before she wanted her hair straightened and colored blonde,” Jolly told the news station.

“I'm like 'No, baby. That's not you. This is who you are. You don't have to be like anyone else but yourself,'" Jolly added. "And I feel like she should be comfortable in her own skin."

Jolly bought her daughter a shirt that included the phrase “black girls rock” — a shirt made by a company of the same name that promotes empowerment among black women.

Makiyah-Jae wore the shirt to school a number of times, but recently came home in a different shirt after leaving in the one her mother bought her. Jolly called the principal to find out why.

“When I asked him what was the reason for him taking the shirt off of her, he said, 'You're right. It's not in the policy. Nowhere in the policy does it state that the shirt is out of dress code,” she said. 

“He said they made a judgment call, then I proceeded to ask well who are the judges judging my eight year old," Jolly added. "And he said 'Well, I'm the principal so I made the call.'"

Jolly complained to a district administrator, prompting the school to apologize on Dec. 10.

“It took two days but he did apologize,” she said. “I accepted the apology, but my concern is how many other kids have been discriminated against at that school and their parents have not spoken up."

Biloxi Schools superintendent Arthur McMillan said the judgment call was an overreaction and that the school ultimately realized their mistake.

“The principal said they got to thinking about it," McMillan said. "We were trying to avoid a conflict. In today's world we think about all the politically correct things that we don't want to offend anybody; probably overreached in this situation. In our school we don't do a dress uniform.

“ ... We probably overreached in this situation, but we make many decisions every day. Sometimes with decisions we make even as parents, we go back and look and think I wish I'd made that decision different. I think that's the situation here. If he could make that decision again, he'd probably say 'Hey, you know that's not a big deal,' but you're always guarding against how do we not offend anybody."

Mikayah-Jae is now permitted to wear her shirt to school.

Sources: WLOX, The Grio / Photo credit: WLOX