Two young Harlem girls were recently banned from participating in a holiday recital at a dance school they attend because their hair was braided. According to PIX11, nine-year-old April Skinner and 10-year-old Brooke Skinner were told that they couldn’t dance in the holiday production of “The Black Nutcracker” at Harlem’s Uptown Dance Academy because of their hairstyle. The girls have been attending that dance academy for three years.
Their mother, Lisa Skinner, was told by the school’s owner and her daughters’ teacher, Robin Williams, that they would not be able to participate in the show if their hair was not in a bun as recommended. Once Ms. Skinner decided to not follow that policy, her daughters were expelled from the school.
“They were expelled from the school because I would not adhere to this ludicrous policy and [Williams] said to me then I will send you a refund of your ticket purchase money,” Skinner told the news outlet.
”I feel bad I can’t participate just because of my hair,” April added. ” My hair is a part of myself, and I was born with this type of hair.”
Williams released a statement saying she wasn’t being discriminatory and was just following tradition and ballet protocol.
“As a Ballet Academy, our policy has always been that students wear their hair in a bun for classes whether it’s braided or not. However, for a Traditional Classical Ballet Production, our policy has always been for all the dancers to wear their hair in an unbraided classical ballet bun…Parents were not told they couldn’t perform if they wore braids, they were told they cannot perform if they don’t follow policies.”
With the passing of the CROWN Act, natural hair discrimination is now illegal. But was this hair discrimination or non-compliance with long-standing rules?