Texas Court Discriminates Against Black Hair

Darryl George and his mother, Darresha, outside of Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas. Image and caption: Michael Wyke / Associated Press via New York Times.

In the midst of a climate crisis of epic proportions, an ongoing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, the rise of the far right across the world, and many other life-changing problems and crises, the Barbers Hill School District (BHISD) in Texas has decided that the best way to spend their energy is by…harassing Black students and policing their hairstyles. On February 22, a Texas Judge upheld the right of BHISD to force male students to wear their hair short. Darryl George, a Black student who wears his hair in locs, has spent his junior year of high school in in-school suspension or at alternative educational institutions. In George’s words: “I am being harassed by school officials and treated like a dog. I am being subjected to cruel treatment and a lot of unkind words from many adults within the school including teachers, principals and administrators.”

This attack on Black student expression comes even after Texas lawmakers passed the CROWN Act, outlawing discrimination against students for wearing hairstyles or having hair textures associated with race, and despite the fact that the lawmakers who introduced the CROWN Act stated that the law would protect George’s hair.

Hair discrimination has a long and disgusting history dating back to the 19th century, when slave owners forced enslaved Black people to conform to Eurocentric beauty standards. Even now, Black people face persistent discrimination for wearing natural hairstyles. Besides Darryl George, BHISD has harassed multiple Black students for wearing natural hairstyles. And it’s not only in Texas. In 2019 a Black teenager in New Jersey was forced to cut his dreadlocks in order to participate in a wrestling match. And in Massachusetts in 2017, sisters Mya and Deana Cook had to serve detention because their braided hairstyles violated school policy.

Hair discrimination is a racist practice masquerading as a simple dress code. We should never accept these racist policies that limit and harm human lives to preserve Eurocentric beauty standards!