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In yet another case of hair discrimination, Florida high school, Abeka Academy, has issued a formal apology after telling a Black honor student that he had to cut his locs in order to participate in the upcoming graduation.
Jacob Rush, a senior and straight-A student at the Pensacola Christian school was looking forward to his graduation when his mother abruptly received a letter telling her that the locs he had in his senior photos had to be snipped or shortened, or else he would not be allowed to walk at the ceremony.
Abeka Academy reportedly credited the warning to the campus of Pensacola Christian College saying it was their requirement. “As a reminder for the graduates participating in the ceremony, we ask the gentlemen to have hair tapered and may not come over the ears, eyebrows, or collar (no braids, dreadlocks, buns), ” a screenshot of an email from Mrs. Karen Northrup read.
After reading the email, Jacob’s mother Latrenda Rush launched a Change.org petition to highlight the school’s blatant discriminatory demands and garner support for her young King.
Latrenda wrote in the petition, “My son has worked very diligently this year and to get the news that his senior picture shows that he has “Locs,” disqualifies him from marching unless he cuts them. This is very inhumane!”
Hair Discrimination Black people in all walks of life.
Inhumane indeed. Even at an early age, Black people’s hair has been under a microscope. A 2021 CROWN Research Study for girls found 53% of Black mothers, whose daughters have encountered hair discrimination, say their child experienced it as early as 5 years old.
Yet it’s even beyond kindergarten and or high school. Those same Black students who will one day become workers, whether in corporate settings or blue-collar, are often subject to employer hair discrimination. Even our stars aren’t immune to the plight. In Hollywood Black actresses and actors have to fight for their hair to be represented correctly. Hit TV show Snowfall is a prime example of Black hair done well, yet it remains one of the few.
In order to protect everyone from Hollywood celebs to A-students like Jacob, federal laws have been proposed.
Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2021 or the CROWN Act of 2021, would prohibit discrimination based on a person’s hair texture or hairstyle if that style or texture is commonly associated with a particular race or national origin. Specifically, the bill prohibits this type of discrimination against those participating in federally assisted programs, housing programs, public accommodations, and employment.
After the petition garnered over 37,000 and sparked outrage on social media, Abeka Academy took to Facebook on Tuesday to apologize for their “insensitive rule.”
The Crown Act is currently being debated in Congress. You can join over 397,000 signatures and counting here to let your voice be heard. Rep. Ilhan Omar presides today as the House debates the Crown Act.