Archives for category: hair and ethnicity

I don’t understand how any modern teacher or school administrator could justify this policy on kids’ hairstyles.

A toddler has gotten in trouble at his preschool for having his hair in locks. The school has a policy against “faddish” hairstyles. Clearly someone used discretion in enforcing this policy, because locks are not a new “fad.”

This is an interesting example of how something that would normally be an individual choice, i.e. up to the parents and their own cultural heritage (and no one else’s business), becomes politicized. Should school administrators tell parents how to style their kids’ hair? What difference does it make, in fact, how hair appears as long as it’s not in the way? I could understand, possibly, if teachers objected to a child wearing his bangs so long that they impaired his or her eyesight. But hairstyles are personal choices, and have little to no bearing, I would think, on a child’s learning ability or self worth (unless she or he is criticized for prejudicial reasons).


Pam Spaulding runs the blog on, and is a passionate writer and social justice activist. She has included her hair journey on her own website, and I interviewed her in 2005 about her story. Pam’s unique perspective brings to light the intersections among race, hair, and politics; her decision to stop straightening her hair provided her with a sense of freedom and authenticity. The politics of hair is a topic about which I’m learning. It seems in some ways to represent an area of potential control by employers or other groups with an interest in defining who really belongs and who can be excluded.