Kid Controversy: Confidence, Self-Esteem, and Elementary School

Over the past few months there have been various news stories about schools banning dreads, cornrows, and braids. I know. Horrible. We see the stories, we shake our heads, we express our frustration to our girlfriends and mothers, but what are we doing to educate the world?

The sheer ignorance of the banning of these styles is almost too much to fathom in 2013. The first kids have black hair. They wear braids and twists. But still the nation refuses to accept black as anything other than the eternal other. Not only is the black beauty standard labeled the “other,” it is also labeled wrong, bad, and un-American.

The message that this sends to girls is one that will follow them forever. That your beauty is not America’s beauty and if you don’t conform to what is labeled more American there is no place for you in our education system, our offices, our country. Not only are most of these decisions made by whites, but they’re made by white males. So how do women of all ethnicities and races fight back? Say it’s not okay that your child’s friend is being kicked out of school because she has an “ethnic” hair style. Show all of our daughters that hair is hair and all hair is beautiful. Celebrate India Arie’s hair just as much as you celebrate Halle Berry’s. Tell her of how much you loved Brandy’s braids back in the 90s. Wear your own hair in different styles to show that you support the diversity of black women. If you can’t take it that far, let her overhear you telling your sister who may not have a relaxer that her hair looks great. These are small things that can boost self-esteem and combat the outside influences trying to break that self-confidence and not foster it.

While we should all be angry about these incidents, we should all also know that healing has to come from us, not them. The need for approval is nonexistent and while the desire to educate exists too often it is proven futile. so instead of seeking approval and trying to educate those kicking our kids out, let’s instead instill in them a sense of pride and self so that they are strong when they face such ignorance at eight and even more prepared for it and stronger when they experience it at 28.

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