With so many Black girls and women fighting bias and discriminatory policies about their hair in schools and workplaces, it is not surprising that a Massachusetts mom categorized her 7-year-old daughter’s head being shaved bald without her permission as a violation.
The little girl named Tru, who is biracial, got the drastic haircut on October 15 while living at the Little Heroes Group Home in the suburban Boston town of Dracut, Massachusetts, her mom, Denise Robinson, told 7 News Boston. Staff said the decision was made because of “hygiene,” but Robinson doubted the claim.
Robinson said she was told, “don’t worry, it will grow back straight.” That comment was “racist,” said the mom who spoke about her daughter’s experience as a criminal act.
“I am very upset,” Robinson told NECN. “And I’m not going to stop being upset because I feel like my child was assaulted and violated.”
Robinson continued: “They are full of it because if this was a grooming issue, then it would have been addressed. This is not a grooming issue, she didn’t have head lice, she didn’t have any sort of bugs, she didn’t have rasta locks.”
The language used by Robinson to describe the incident echoes words used by many Black women in speaking out against hair discrimination. Robinson’s words and the incident also highlight the beauty ideal that says straight hair is “good,” a damaging belief deeply embedded in African-American history and culture. The social value of straight hair is praised, to the dismay of Black women who embrace natural hair and are still fighting for societal acceptance and against debilitating stereotypes.
The defense for the incident from a spokesperson for the group home does nothing to truly reassure mothers like Robinson that their children won’t be demonized for their hair.
“Decisions regarding grooming are based on a variety of factors, including hygiene,” the Little Heroes said in a statement. “A review of the circumstances is underway to determine what occurred and, if necessary, appropriate action will be taken.”
What happened to Robinson’s daughter shows the nation that changing the conversations around Black hair must happen now.