A four-year-old student in Chicago, Illinois was asked to take his braids down after his school cited a three decades old policy that prohibits students from wearing braids, locs, or other similar styles.
The school, Providence St. Mel, is the private school where four-year-old Jett Hawkins attends and reportedly wanted to show off his new hairstyle to his teachers and classmates. According to a report by Block Club Chicago, Jett’s mother, Ida Nelson was asked to take the style down.
In a post to Facebook, Nelson detailed the incident, stating the school’s hairstyle policy discriminates against Black students despite it being a predominantly Black school.
“Imagine paying $1683 a month for your children to attend a private school so that they can be educated without discrimination (Providence St. Mel is a primarily Black school) only to receive a call from the dean explaining that the new braid style that brought your son joy is unacceptable and is not tolerated based on a 30 plus year old rule inspired by the spirit of assimilation,” Nelson wrote, as reported by Yahoo News.
According to Block Club, Providence St. Mel’s handbook includes strict guidelines on appearance including prohibiting “high-gadget” watches, nail extensions on female students, and earrings on male students.
Nelson reported that she was offered a refund if she wanted to take her son out of the school. According to Yahoo News, Nelson also alleged that the school’s Black principal, Timothy Ervin, told her that braided styles don’t “look good on his boys” and that Ervin doesn’t “believe that braids nor [locs] are apart of Black culture and does not believe that hair discrimination is a factor effecting the Black community.”
Nelson is hoping that the school considers changing the policy to reflect more contemporary ideals.
“Why is it acceptable to tell Black children in an economically disadvantaged neighborhood who already have so many other obstacles to overcome how they can and cannot express themselves?” Nelson told Block Club.
The outlet reported Ervin didn’t return a request for comment.
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