A Texas family says their son hasn’t been able to enroll in his local public high school because of a racist and arbitrary policy that bans braids and other natural hairstyles common among Black people.
The East Bernard Independent School District’s handbook–which CNN reports was removed from the district’s web site after reporters started asking questions about the policy–bans the styles as part of its dress code, despite the fact that hairstyles have nothing to do with what someone wears. That’s a problem for Dyree Williams, a 17-year-old student whose family just moved from Cincinnati to East Bernard, which is near Houston.
Williams wears his hair in braids and considers the style a tie to his culture and ancestors. His family has appealed local school officials decision not to allow him to enroll, to no avail. The family says cutting his hair isn’t an option, but they also don’t have another option for a public school to send him to because East Bernard is the closest district to their home.
“I feel really sick to my stomach,” she [Williams’ mother, Desiree Bullock] said. “I feel like (the district’s hair policy) needs to change, I feel like it’s horrible and I feel like it’s only toward African American children or people.”
Only 6.1% of the students in the district are Black, according to the Texas Education Agency.
Williams would be entering his junior year of high school, a pivotal year for many high school students in the wake of college prep, Bullock said, and feels bad because he’s missing opportunities to run track and get noticed by scouts for college scholarships.
It’s not the first time a Texas school district has faced controversy over how it treats Black students over their hair. In 2020, a judge ruled that Barbers Hill Independent School District in Mont Belvieu, Texas, had to allow then junior student Kaden Bradford full access to school and extracurricular activities without cutting off his dreadlocks.