What do you see when you look at this picture? To many this is a neatly groomed black boy ready for school. But to the Immaculate Heart of Mary school in Belmont, California this hair style was “distracting” and resulted in little Jalyn Broussard being sent home half an hour after he arrived at school because according to Principal Teri Grosey, the style would “unduly influence the student body.”
A little background here, Immaculate Heart of Mary is a Catholic school with a strict grooming standard that bans faux hawks. However, Jalyn’s mother Mariana Broussard notes that the hair cut is closer to a fade than a faux hawk — the longest parts are less than a half inch off his head — and she has seen White and Asian students sporting the same style.
Jalyn was sent home in December, and Mariana has tried unsuccessfully to see eye to eye with the school since then. After months of unproductive talks, she pulled her two children out of the school and filed a discrimination suit with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
As the mother of a 2 (nearly 3) year old who attends preschool, and a former Catholic school student (shout out to Immaculate Conception Prep and High School in Kingston!) I am trying very hard to see the school’s point of view, but honestly I can’t. As one individual noted in a comment underneath the original story, Jalyn’s style passes military standards and yet it got him kicked out of kindergarten… (Cue Meek Mill’s Where Dey Do Dat?) But seriously, it’s hard not to feel that there are some insidious factors at play here — the criminalization of black children’s behavior, the ‘othering’ of black hair and the characterization of black style as negatively influential.
Ladies, what are your thoughts?