Parents are protesting against a district’s dress code after their children were reportedly threatened with suspension for wearing African head wraps.
At the School for Creative Studies in Durham, North Carolina, various students wanted to wear geles, African head wraps, in order to honor their culture for Black History Month. However, a school administrator said the geles violated the dress code, and they needed to be removed or altered so their hair could be seen. According to The Root, students were also told they were not being inclusive of their classmates.
“It says to me symbolically that our girls—and our boys, as well—have to alter not only their attire but their whole selves in order to seem less disruptive or offensive,” said mother Dosali Reed-Bandele. “This is utterly ridiculous, and I am tired of those messages bombarding our babies day in and day out.”
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"This is not right,” said mother Afiya Carter to WTVD News. “This is not fair. We will not stand for it. This is about supporting these young people and letting them know that their cultural expression is something to be valued, and value other people's cultural expressions."
On Feb. 8, parents, students, and residents of the community were urged to wear their geles and protest outside the school in an attempt to convince the district to alter the dress code.
"Our girls should be able to express themselves culturally, regardless of whether it's Black History Month or not. They should be able to wear their head wraps," Reed-Bandele said. "It happened to me in high school but I had to stand firm to my principal and say, this is a part of my culture."
According to WTVD News, the principal decided to allow students to wear the African head wraps as an instructional tool. Nevertheless, some parents feel that is not enough.
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"We're saying that it's not just for one day, we're saying our daughters who express themselves should be able to express themselves culturally every single day of the their lives,” said Reed-Bandele.
The Twitter hashtag #ItsBiggerThanaHeadwrap was launched so others could show solidarity and support the Durham students.
“I hope that my daughter and the other girls learn that you should not alter who you are to fit in or assimilate to society’s so-called standards, and that it’s perfectly on point to stand up for what you know is right,” said Reed-Bandele.