Braid Extensions: Yes or No?

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Kelsey Saxton

Deanna and Aaron Cook, two white parents of five black children, raised them to have “thick skin” and ignore others’ comments, but when two of the kids, Deanna and Mya , both age 15, wanted to have their hair professionally braided after learning more about their African-American heritage, it becomes just too hard to ignore others.

They went to their school, Mystic Valley High School with the hair extensions in, and the very next day, they were both called down to the office for a ” uniform infraction”. Hair extensions are prohibited in the public charter school’s student handbook, alongside nail polish, makeup and dyed hair because it is “distracting. The girls were asked to remove their braided hair extensions and they both refused, saying it was discriminatory against African-American students and unevenly enforced.

The girls were told to attend a detention, but refused and failed to show up. The school’s punishments have only been escalating, so much that Aaron and Deanna Cook contacted the NAACP ( National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Denying young black women their opportunity to express their cultural identity will not make the school safer, more orderly, or less ‘distracting,’” the committee said in a statement. “It will diminish your students, and diminish your ranks. Doing this to high school students at a time when they are learning about self-expression and self-advocacy is particularly troubling.”

The school’s director sent a letter to all Mystic Valley parents saying the rule against fake hair is in place to promote equity.

Aaron is waiting to hear back from the school on if they will change their rules or if he needs to pull his kids out of Mystic Valley and enroll them in a different one.