Another Black student is fighting for their simple right to walk across the stage for their graduation no matter their hairstyle.
According to LoveBScott, Kienjanae Hooper is a senior at Gladewater High School in Gladewater, Texas, and this week, officials told her that she couldn’t walk at her Friday graduation ceremony because of her braided hairstyle.
The school’s dress code policy didn’t say anything about braids, however, it says:
“[hair] shall be clean, trimmed from eyes, and well groomed. Boys with hair longer than collar length shall wear a pony tail pinned up to within collar length. Facial hair shall be neatly trimmed. Hair coloring shall resemble a natural color.”
Hooper wears burgundy-dyed braids.
Her mom, Kieana Hooper, expressed her outrage on social media as well as an appreciation for the support they’ve received. Her Tuesday Facebook post reads:
“Words Can not express how each every person/ voice that has shown Support for Kj, my daughter and the issue with her hair and not going to be able to walk/ graduate on this upcoming Friday at her High School, Gladewater High School unless she takes her hair down due to color/ braids. There has been No Resolution as of now and no contact from Supertendants office either. We are still standing on what we believe is right and just, nothing less will do. My daughter should not feel embarrased [sic] or ashame of her self and/ or her hair. Her hair has never been a problem all throughout school year. She is striving to have a Proud Moment of her Academic/ Athletic Accomplishments not to have to Worry [sic] about her hair. Please feel free to contact me anytime. Thank you. Education does not Equal =No Hair. No! No!”
In a statement, Hooper’s attorney, Waukeen McCoy, made a reference to George Floyd‘s death by the police along with protests around police brutality.
“Systemic racism is not only in police departments as being played out in the news today, but in other institutions like Gladewater Independent School District in Gladewater Texas,” he said. “It is appalling that in this day and age schools are worried about black hairstyles, specifically braids and/or colored braids. The 2019-2020 school’s dress code policy even prohibits male students from wearing makeup or having polished nails. We will hold them accountable for the anguish the family is going through during these difficult times.”
Hooper joins people like DeAndre Arnold, who was suspended and told he wouldn’t be able to walk at his high school graduation because of his dreadlocks. Many celebrities, like Gabrielle Union, rallied behind him and he even walked on the red carpet for the Oscars to spread his message with “Hair Love” short-film director Matthew Cherry.
To further Hooper’s cause, LoveBScott, explained, “If you would like to speak up for Kienjanae and demand she be allowed to walk at her graduation ceremony, you can reach Principal Cathy Bedair at 903-845-5591.”
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