A Massachusetts charter school has partially reversed its ban on durags after students convinced administrators of the rule’s unfairness, successfully arguing that the head covering isn’t a gateway drug that leads to gang-banging or even worse—male pattern baldness.
According to the Daily Item, Kipp Academy Lynn Collegiate School had been issuing in-school suspensions to black male students who wear durags at the Lynn, Mass., high school. Although the dress code might seem reasonable, the charter school’s rationale for doing so raised the ire of some black students who don’t believe that durags stop information from entering their brain
Administrators said durags were outlawed in an attempt to prevent black boys from going to jail or becoming gang members. That’s right, KIPP Lynn’s approach to preventing the unfair punishment and criminalization of black boys by the criminal justice system is to institute a rule that unfairly punishes and criminalizes black boys.
“To reiterate our rationale, they are a direct component of school to prison pipeline,” wrote Shauna-Kaye Clarke, dean of students and culture, in an email to students. “And unfortunately, they are also reflective of some gang culture. And they can recede your hairline. That’s not setting you up for success.”
Despite having no evidence that a satin piece of cloth magically turns a boy into a criminal, after conferring with administrators, KIPP chose the “durag will make you a hairless thug” as the specific hill on which it wanted to die. That’s their argument.
To be fair, in most of my job interviews, the first question I am always asked is whether or not I wear a durag. I’m pretty sure there was at least one question about my hairline on my college admission application.
Everyone knows durags make you think bad thoughts. In the original comic book version of Black Panther, Eric Killmonger wore a durag and was only thwarted when the Dora Milaje hid his Blue Magic Grease and boar’s head hairbrush.
Luckily, I wore the cheaper equivalent of a durag during my high school years—the cut-off foot of a pair of knee-high stockings. It was much more economically efficient because there were two in each package, four if you were meticulous enough to tie a knot in the top of the leftover remnants just in case you needed a backup wave cap.
But let’s not forget about how inner-city gangs lure boys into their folds with promises of 360 waves. Crips and Bloods are easily identifiable by their undulating low caesars, and most music critics agree that “durag rap” has ruined hip-hop.
While some people have denigrated the durag in their efforts to push respectability politics onto a younger generation, it’s not as if proper clothing provides an impenetrable shield for racism.
Ask Trayvon Martin’s hoodie.
“Obviously, we have the common sense not to wear a durag to a job interview,” said Jaeqhan McClain, a senior at the school, according to WHDH. “I get good grades, I’m on honor roll and I’ve been wearing my durag every day.”
KIPP academy allows decorative and cultural head wraps, but Nikki Barnes, the institution’s director of high schools and middle schools said they would allow students to make a case for durags.
“That’s what I’m waiting for, the compelling argument that a durag is actually cultural, it’s not just functional,” said Barnes.
Apparently, the students succeeded. According to the school’s spring newsletter, students will be allowed to wear the head covering on campus until their advisory period at the beginning of the day:
After much sharing and discussion, the compromise reached was to restructure and redesign how students are greeted at arrival time ... Students would be allowed to arrive in Do-Rags, for example, until Advisories started. In Advisories, students meet daily in groups of 10-12 of their peers for open discussion, ranging from challenges and celebrations in the classroom, to family issues ... In addition, it was agreed that, as new privileges are respected and earned, other updates to the rule would be considered.
Meanwhile, sociologists who studied disparities in the criminal justice system, the War on Drugs, disproportionate police killings, underfunded schools and educational segregation, have not replied to The Root’s request for comments on how durags fuel the school-to-prison pipeline.
Well, there was one response that said: “You can’t be serious. Only an idiot would make that argument,” but that was probably spam.
So congratulations to the students at KIPP Academy Lynn. As Killmonger said:
“Bury me in my the ocean with my durag. Because the ancestors knew that 360 waves was better than bondage.”