Via, Chicago based Writer & Journalism Lecturer, Deborah Douglas takes a moment to discuss Vanessa VanDyke; a 12 year old Violinist and Honor Student from Florida who was almost expelled over her right to wear a afro. Serving as Facilitator for The OpEd Project (dedicated to amplifying diverse voices of women, youth and other underrepresented groups) Douglas also addresses the rebirth boom of being natural, knocking down the “idealized” standards of beauty.


Photo: Destiny Sanders


Another bad hair day has been averted since Vanessa VanDyke, a 12-year-old Florida girl, has been welcomed back into the private school that briefly considered expelling her if she didn’t cut or straighten her to avoid being a “distraction”.




The white version of life in America, entrenched as the default for nearly every cultural interaction, once again came crashing against the black woman’s quest to define what it means to be beautiful when Vanessa was asked to change her long, flowy, modified ‘fro. Burned by the proverbial hot comb, Faith Christian Academy officials backed off, calling the expulsion talk a “misunderstanding”.


In case you missed it, black women are in the throes of a beauty renaissance, embracing a variety of hair grooming methods, such as weaves, wigs, braids, twists and dreadlocks to present their best selves. As a black woman with dreadlocks, I have a strong point of view about some of these methods and the materials/cost they require. But I applaud these women’s efforts to look and feel confident by donning a uniform that promotes freedom of movement and pride of self.


Big business has noticed, steadily following homegrown natural hair products businesses such as Miss Jessie’s and Carol’s Daughter into the$684m black hair care market. State licensing agencies are paying attention, often with hackneyed attempts to force a cottage industry of braiders and loctitians (people who groom dreadlocks), to go to beauty school and get a license in a branch of the business (chemicals) they don’t work or even believe in.


We keep having natural hair blowouts.


• Ashley Davis was fired after she refused to adhere to a company policy issued two weeks after she started work at Tower Loan in St Louis. The policy banned her neatly groomed locks in addition to styles like braids and mullets.


• Tiana Parker, 8, was asked by ill-informed, unevolved black administrators in August to her charter school’s grooming policy by cutting off her well-groomed dreadlocks or be kicked out – causing her to go home and cry.


• Lorain Horizon Science Academy in Ohio rescinded its ban on several looks found on any black girl’s menu of styling options: “Afro-puffs and small twisted braids, with or without rubber bands are NOT permitted.”


For anyone who believed…Read more of what Douglass has to say here