Last week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, seven-year-old Tiana Parker was forced to choose between her hair — adorable, short dreadlocks held back with a bow — and her school, which deemed her hairstyle "unacceptable." Rather than cut off her hair, she decided to switch schools. Our feelings about this were summed up by Melissa Harris Perry, who read an open letter to Parker titled, "To a black girl whose hair was deemed ‘unacceptable.'"
The letter reads, "For the record, Tiana, your hair is not distracting, unacceptable, a fad, or wrong. Tiana, your hair is wonderful." She goes on to describe the cultural importance of dreadlocks, and the well-known people who have worn them — praising both Tiana and her parents for taking pride in her hair rather than allowing the school to shame her into changing it.
The letter is moving, poignant, and incredibly important. While dialogue amongst adults about the many different ways racism appears is crucial, speaking to children about it is just as vital, if not more so. As Tiana Parker's experience shows, kids are often the most vulnerable to forces of oppression. We highly recommend that everyone head on over to MHP's blog on MSNBC and read the full thing. It's a beautiful message of support and one that we'd like to see a lot more of. (MSNBC)
Photo: Via MSNBC.