This story is sort of an intesectionality jackpot, combining as it does elements of racism, religious bigotry, and sexism.
For five-year-old Malachi Wilson, the first day of kindergarten will always be one he remembers. As it turns out, Monday, which was the first day of school for students at F.J. Young Elementary School in Seminole, Texas, was not Malachi’s first day of school because he was sent home because of the length of his hair.
School principal Sherrie Warren informed April Wilson, Malachi’s mother, that Malachi’s hair is too long since he is a boy; therefore, he would not be able to attend classes until he got a haircut.[…]
She explained to the principal that for religious beliefs Native Americans consider hair sacred and spiritual. The principal then asked Wilson if she could prove Malachi is Native American.
After Malachi and his mother left the school, Wilson called the Navajo Nation to assist in the documentation process. She also called a member of the American Indian Movement, who called the school district’s superintendent.
As the photo shows, Malachi’s hair is neat and well groomed. This wasn’t about cleanliness, or tidiness; it was the school forcing its gender ideology on a helpless little boy.
The school district’s rules (pdf link) include an exemption to the dress code for religious reasons, and Malachi was allowed to attend school the next day (after the American Indian Movement and the Navajo Nation interceded on Malachi’s behalf). But he never should have been sent home in the first place, and no religious exemption should be required. Why are the people who write rules like these so small-minded, so intolerant of any difference, and so eager to force their gender ideology down other people’s throats?
Colorlines notes that “The school district is ostensibly named for the Seminole people. The district’s schools use various Native mascots, and refer to their students as ‘Indians and Maidens.'”
Makes no sense to me. My son isn’t much older than that and wears his hair longHell, strangers often think he’s a girl, but he doesn’t care a whit, which seem sort of unusual for a 3rd grade boy.
I think you may be underestimating the degree to which this was caused by malice against NAs rather than gender ideology. It’s likely that they were perfectly familiar with NA male traditions regarding long hair at the time they wrote the rule–probably not an accident that the only way to get out of it involves some paperwork and proof of “enough” tribal affiliation.
The folks in that area have a large tendency to regard NAs as “undisciplined” or “hard to control” and it is quite probably a deliberate and petty effort to exert control.
I’ve heard several stories like this over the past few years, almost all of them involving either Native American boys with long hair or black kids with either an afro or braids or dreds. Just two hair-related stories that I can recall involving white kids — one a few years ago with a little boy with a faux-hawk, and one a few weeks ago with a teenage girl who’d dyed her blonde hair red. (The red hair was a shade of red that was not quite a usual natural hair color, but it looked like it was from a drugstore hair dye, not Manic Panic or something, so within the usual range of dyed colors.)
I’m guessing that you’re probably right that it had to do, to some extent, with his being of Native descent. To what extent? Who knows? It’s hard or impossible, often, to tease that out, which is why concepts such as “intersectionality” are useful.
Not my term:
Aha. Quite so. Thank you.
This guy is out of line. Yes, looking at a 5-year-0ld from that angle you can’t tell if he/she is a boy or a girl. But so what? Presuming the kid’s hair is clean I don’t see the issue.
I confess I’m personally sensitive to the issue.
Troop meeting, many years ago. I was Scoutmaster. In what I’m sure will be a surprise to everyone here, I’m known to be rather “old school” and am not shy about correcting behavior or appearances that are not up to standard. In walks a young man who’s tried to push the limits fairly often. Tonight he’s got blue and obviously-not-natural-red hair. Suppressed giggles and sidelong glances at me from the kids. Disapproving looks from the parents. I carry on as if I see nothing.
End of meeting. It is customary at a Boy Scout Troop meeting to close with a “Scoutmaster’s Minute”, a short story illustrating a moral principle about Scouting and/or life in general. Usually it’s not about people in the unit. But not this time.
“Some of you have been wondering why I haven’t said anything about Mike’s hair. Let me tell you something. I was in Scouting as a boy from the time I was in first grade until I was a sophomore in college. That’s a long time. I was a loyal Scout – I was Patrol Leader, Senior Patrol Leader, Junior Assistant Scoutmaster, Order of the Arrow, Summer Camp Staff and went on a High Adventure trip. It was a big part of my life. I came back from college the summer after my sophomore year with hair down to my collar. At my next Troop meeting my Scoutmaster and my Committee Chair took me aside and told me I looked like a pimp. [giggles from some of the Scouts]. Back then that was not a compliment – and it still isn’t. I walked out of that Scout meeting and didn’t go back to another one for a quarter of a century.”
“A Scout is Trustworthy, Loyal, Helpful, Friendly, Courteous, Kind, Obedient, Cheerful, Thrifty, Brave, Clean and Reverent. I see nothing in there that says anything about hair length or color.” After taking a second to look around at the adults, I continued “As long as your hair is clean and you keep something on it to keep it out of the food while you’re cooking you’ll hear nothing from me on the matter. Good night, Scouts.” None of the parents said anything to me.
Good for you, Ron!
[standing ovation for RonF]
[Joins ovation for RonF!]
I think it was caused by both. But all of the news sources I read seemed to at least nod at the racial and cultural issues, while completely ignoring the sexism; this made me feel like my post should emphasize the sexism aspect.