“I am going to strongly encourage you to consider the school’s request and at least shape or have her hair cut. That I believe would resolve the issue,” said Pastor Carl Stephens in an email to the parents of the victim, Vanessa VanDyke (CNN).
Vanessa VanDyke of Orlando, Florida is a private school student at Faith Christian Academy and was constantly bullied by many of the other students for her ‘natural hair.’ The only solution that was brought to VanDyke to fix the problem of the teasing from the other students was for her to compromise herself to satisfy the student body, instead of the students being apprehended for their discriminatory prejudice behavior.
The issue lies in the fact that the first reaction of the school was for the student to fix her “flaw,” not for the bullies to neither refrain nor learn from their prejudice behavior. Because VanDyke is presented as not assimilating to the white American culture, her image comes into question instead of the gazers eyes that have been placed upon her. According to CNN, the school’s student handbook says that students’ hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction. The mother of VanDyke, Sabrina Kent said, “A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another…you can get a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?”
The consequences of the victimized child was that she was given one week to either make the decision to “tame” her hair and remain at the school, or keep the hair and leave the private school. Then several days later, due to the attention of the issue and backlash of the surrounding black community, the school took back their ultimatum of expulsion however VanDyke was still presented with the option to keep her hair under the consequences of having to relocate to a different school. However, according to a statement sent from the school, “ We are not asking her to put products in her hair or cut her hair. We are asking her to style her hair within the guidelines according to the school handbook.”
America is teaching the child ways of non-verbal required assimilation. The question then becomes; is it really a melting pot, or is the melting pot just not hot enough for right now? The truth is, more often than not this kind of incident occurs. Thus, to question if this is a normal behavior by society is out of the question. There has always been a yearning for assimilation to the white culture within every “American” culture. It’s more common to hear an employer tell their employee that they must cut their hair or “tame” it, especially among those of Afro-decent in order to work for a certain company because the hair doesn’t “look” professional.