In the heart of Mont Belvieu, Texas, a high school student’s life took an unexpected turn. Darryl George, a 17-year-old pupil at Barbers Hill High School, was served an in-school suspension because of his hairstyle. This incident echoes a similar one that took place with another student, De’Andre Arnold, over two years ago.
The saga began on Thursday, 7th September, when Darryl allowed his hair to fall below his eyebrows, instead of tying it back. This act was seen as a violation of the school’s dress code, leading to his suspension. The school had previously made headlines when it suspended former student De’Andre Arnold for a similar reason.
According to Darryl’s mother, Darresha George, the suspension deeply upset her son. The family and their attorney, Allie Booker, argue that Darryl’s hair was in compliance with the dress code. Booker clarified that as long as Darryl’s hair does not cover his eyes, fall below the earlobes or the nape of the neck, or reach his collar, it should not be an issue.
The suspension comes as a bitter irony, considering the recent enactment of the CROWN Act in Texas. The CROWN Act, short for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, was passed to prevent such incidents from recurring. The legislation, present in only 23 other states, prohibits discrimination based on hairstyles and textures associated with race.
The Act was passed following the suspension of De’Andre Arnold, making it all the more surprising that another such incident could occur in the same school. The unfortunate incident involving Darryl occurred in the same month the law came into effect.
Many, including Darryl’s mother and several activists, believe that the school has violated the CROWN Act. They argue that hairstyles like braids and locs, which Darryl sports, are race-oriented “protective hairstyles”. These natural hair styles are designed to protect the hair from environmental damage. The CROWN Act expressly prohibits discrimination based on such hairstyles.
Several voices have condemned the school’s actions, including Rep. Ron Reynolds, who helped design the Texas CROWN Act. He criticized the school district for repeating the same mistake, stating there was “absolutely zero excuse” for the incident.
“It feels like déjà vu,” Rep. Reynolds said.
As the controversy continues, there are growing calls for federal intervention. If Barbers Hill High School does not reverse the suspension, Darresha and others are advocating for the district’s federal funding to be withheld until the issue is resolved.
Despite the introduction of the CROWN Act, it seems that the struggle for social justice, particularly in relation to natural hair and the Black community, continues. The situation involving the Black Texas student serves as a stark reminder that there is still much work to be done.
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This incident underscores the need for a wider understanding and acceptance of individuality and cultural diversity. The fight against discrimination, in all its forms, must continue. And the story of the Black Texas student suspended over his hairstyle is a rallying point in this ongoing battle for Social Justice.