Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Afro Ban in a Cincinnati, Ohio Middle School

By: Isabella Scott

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Teachers working at Pleasant Run Middle School in Cincinnati, Ohio are on strike over an afro ban they say is racist. After a music teacher told all the students that hairstyles - such as afros and mohawks - are not permitted for the concert, other teachers were outraged.

The teacher specifically said that “Mohawks, Large Afros, or any other outlandish hairstyles are prohibited”. This quote shows the racism by insinuating that an afro, a natural hairstyle for many black men and women, is less "appropriate" than other natural hairstyles. While a Mohawk may be a style, an afro is quite simply a natural hairstyle for someone with textured hair that maintains a medium to long length of hair. To ban afros is to quite literally insist that people use chemical straighteners or cut their hair just because of the way it grows out and looks natural. Textured or curly hair is typically a trait of African-Americans and Jewish people, making the ban a social injustice.

As written, the letter places afros in the same class as what the teacher considers to be “outlandish” hairstyles. The two should not be considered one and the same. The definition of outlandish is to describe something as bizarre or strange looking. How can something someone is born with be considered bizarre or strange? This is why the teachers got so upset - because the ban was  telling anyone with an afro that they looked bizarre or strange. The fact that afros are what people of certain ethnicities are born with, shows that the ban would be singling out only certain demographics. To act as if hairstyles that are straight or flat to a person’s head is preferred is to suggest that there are superior hair types that are more suitable at school concerts.

After so many complaints the school board reviewed the letter and all concerns. It was decided that it was not an appropriate policy. Also, the teacher that initially wrote the policy banning, “ Mohawks, Large Afros, or any other outlandish hairstyles” issued an apology and recognized the mistakes in his wording.

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