Reverse Discrimination: White kids told they’re the wrong race for wearing cornrows to school

Related Story: School Bans Wrong Race Hair Style

Manchester Evening News
Thursday, 18th January 2007  

Teen Segregated because of hair braidsStephanie Tudor

A TEENAGE girl was segregated from other pupils after school bosses ruled she was the wrong race to have braided hair.Stephanie Tudor, 13, was told to spend lunch-time indoors at St Edmund Arrowsmith RC High in Ashton-in-Makerfield, Wigan, because she was wearing braids in her hair.

Her mother Julie has now accused the school of being racist because Afro-Caribbean students are allowed to wear their hair in braids or dreadlocks, but her white daughter cannot.


Julie said the school had threatened Stephanie with lessons in isolation unless she removed the braids. She said: “I don’t think hairstyles should have anything to do with what colour you are. To me everybody’s equal whether they be white, black, brown or yellow, and everybody should have the same rights, especially in a school.” But the school said it had a strict policy on personal appearance that all parents were aware of, which includes banned `extremes of hairstyle’. It added that it does, however, make allowances to look sympathetically on students from Afro-Caribbean backgrounds, where hair manageability is an issue.

Julie, from Ashton-in-Makerfield, said: “To force a girl to study alone, away from her friends, just because of how she’s wearing her hair is disgraceful.”

Stephanie said: “I had to stand up in the school hall during break and lunchtimes as a punishment and couldn’t go outside. I was sitting next to a black girl at dinner time who had braids with more coloured beads than me. She’s allowed, but I’m not.”

St Edmund Arrowsmith deputy head Paul Eyes said: “The code is well laid out and says that extremes of hair will not be tolerated.

“For girls we ask for their hair to be tied back and its natural colour.

“It does also state in the code that we can make allowances for students from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and we would fully stand by our decision to allow black students to have braids because they have a different type of hair.

“This policy has been formulated with the advice of bodies supporting equal opportunities and racial equality and also Wigan’s LEA.”

In March 2005, the M.E.N. told how Olivia Acton, 13, was sent home from Middleton Technology School for having a braided hairstyle.

She was told her tightly-plaited locks were too `extreme’ for the strict uniform policy, even though two pupils with an Afro-Caribbean background had been allowed similar hairstyles.

A month later she was allowed back to school without changing her hairstyle.

ARE school bosses right to ban braids on white pupils? Have your say.

9 Responses to “Reverse Discrimination: White kids told they’re the wrong race for wearing cornrows to school”
  1. aulelia says:

    This happened at my old school in England. Is it racist? That is a hard question. In England, there is a lot of emphasis on multiculturalism so this does seem contrary to the govt’s plans but it isn’t really. Some people might go as far to say that they shouldn’t wear their hair like that because it isn’t their hairstyle. At the end of the day, it is just a passing trend for these children which is a shame because it is part of our culture. I don’t like seeing it get ‘raped’.

  2. nappyme says:

    Hi Aulelia,
    Here’s my take on this. If it’s wrong for a white person to wear African/Carribean inspired hair styles, then why wouldn’t it be wrong for people with kinky, coily hair to straighten their hair?

    Are there similar rules barring kids with Afro/Carribean hair from mocking or “raping” white culture with straight hair?

    Do the school bosses even think twice when black kids show up with straight hair? (I’m assuming the majority of the black girls and women in England straighten their hair just like they do here in the U.S.) Or is straightened hair in their eyes just right and good and acceptable no matter who wears it? But wow, we’ll make an exception for those unfortunate kids with highly unmanagemeabel afro/carribean hair who want to wear braids…after all it’s a part of their cultural heritage.

    It’s obvious it’s the latter sentiment. That’s why, to me, this smacks of something that’s not quite right…perhaps reverse discrimination isn’t quite the right terminology, but the logic is born out of a rationale that straight hair is better than nappy hair…no matter how they try to disguise the policy in multicultural ideology.

  3. kandis says:

    RE:”…the right terminology, but the logic is born out of a rationale that straight hair is better than nappy hair…no matter how they try to disguise the policy in multicultural ideology.”

    I agree with u there. It sounds like cultural imperialism (on a sneak tip).

  4. cooleyhigh says:

    The people running that school are ignorant, hypocritical clowns. It’s one thing to understand the manageability issues with black people’s hair (I can’t even believe that’s how it’s described… by the time you turn a certain age, black girls know how to ‘manage’ their hair….and black dudes shouldn’t have any problems), but these people sound almost militant.

    The young lady is wearing braids…not a mohawk, which can be disruptive sometimes in a school setting. She’s not wearing her hair in different styles at once (that should be banned…you’ve seen it, the braids, finger-waves and straight ponytail all on one head–stop it!)

    Her hair is neat and presentable — shouldn’t that be the only criteria for these kids? To have this girl next to a black girl with the exact same hairstyle and turn around and tell her she’s wrong cause she’s white… that’s awful for a child. She just wants to be like her friends — everybody does it.

    What would happen, then, if a Chinese kid comes in with dreadlocks….gonna make him cut them off cause his skintone is wrong?

    These people are awful…and probably have processed hair — which is wrong, by their own stupid standards.

    Borderline Racist,

  5. Pundi says:

    Where did this take place, I’ve never heard of the term ‘Afro Caribbean”. Afro mainly used like that, is this some European school?

  6. nappyme says:

    Pundi it took place in England.

  7. nottheboss says:

    This is my school
    I can tell you that they are really strict about stuff like this and wont let people even wear gel but they want to try and keep people of different ethnicities happy and darker skinned people are the minority

  8. Indredkold says:

    since when were dreadlocks and braids just a black thing?.. get a grip… us scots were dreading & braiding hair before time itself!

  9. alexforget says:

    this is whats happening to me!

    I’ve been wanting to dreadlock my hair for over a year now. i have my reasons for doing it and now i can’t wait to get started.

    One thing though.
    My school arn’t so happy on the idea, and say that they would only accept them if it was a deep cultural/religious reason. Im classed as white british.Yet i’ve seen around school a number of girls in the same grade/year as me, who have coloured skin, wear braids and such for personal preference.

    To me it feels like the school is being prejudice.

    Of course Im not going to just go and do it: I had to make sure there weren’t any complications like its a health issue, etc.

    I went about it to find out “they haven’t come across with this problem before” so members of senior staff talked about it and in the end they came to me with the cultural/religious reason.

    Putting the dreadlocks aside, i was really quite upset when I was told I can’t discuss to anyone about it and I’ve basically been stoned walled. I can’t even talk to my headteacher about it. I had the deputy-head stop me and quite agresively say “I don’t advise you do that, it’ll make you look like your being arrogant and just doing as you please- you’re coming across like that”

    The school just want me to go away. They say student voice is important to them but right now they just want me to cave in and leave them alone.

    I don’t want to stop fighting, and its only early days. But what am I suppose to do now :/

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