This time it’s 12 year old Vanessa VanDyke’s huge afro that’s caused such a controversy. VanDyke told an Orlando News Station that she faces expulsion because Faith Christian Academy administrators want her to cut and shape her hair.
VanDyke was given a week to decide what to do or leave the private school she’s been attending since she was in the third grade.
But VanDyke’s mother says they will not change her hair because it is a part of her identity.
Vanessa said, “”It says that I’m unique. First of all, it’s puffy and I like it that way. I know people will tease me about it because it’s not straight. I don’t fit in.”
But everyone doesn’t have the same appreciation for her hair. Vanessa said initially the teasing came from students but now school leaders seem to be targeting her too.
The school has a dress code and rules about students are allowed to wear their hair. The student handbook reads: “Hair must be a natural color and must not be a distraction.” It continues to state examples of distracting hair like mohawks, shaved designs and rat tails.
But Vanessa’s mother takes issue with the word distraction. “A distraction to one person is not a distraction to another. You can have a kid come in with pimples on his face. Are you going to call that a distraction?”
Though Vanessa has been wearing her hair like this all year long, it didn’t become an issue until her parents complained about the students teasing her. Vanessa’s mother said: “There have been people teasing her about her hair, and it seems to me that they’re blaming her.”
Vanessa says she would sorry to leave the friends she’s made up until this point but she’d rather do that they have to deal with administrators who keep saying she should change her hair.
Vanessa’s mother said, “i’m going to fight for my daughter. If she wants to her hair like that, she will keep her hair like that. There are people out there who may think that natural hair is not appropriate. She is beautiful the way she is.”
You can check out video of Vanessa and her fro–looking like a young Esperanza Spalding, stringed instrument and all– in the video below.