Twin sisters Maya and Deanna Cook were simply getting their #BlackGirlMagic on when they were given two weeks detention, kicked off their sports teams, and banned from prom — all because they were wearing braids. According to the strict dress code at Massachusetts’ The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School, braids are an “unnatural” way to wear your hair.
The policy states “drastic or unnatural hair colors or styles such as shaved lines or shaved sides or have a hairstyle that could be distracting to other students (extra-long hair or hair more than 2 inches in thickness or height is not allowed). This means no coloring, dying, lightening (sun-in) or streaking of any sort. Hair extensions are not allowed. Hair elastics must be worn in the hair and not on the wrist.”
When the girls’ mom Colleen Cook disagreed with the school, Maya and Deanna were singled out and told they couldn’t attend prom festivities.
Newsweek explains: “Twin students Maya and Deanna Cook, African-American sophomores, told local news outlets they were first told to take their braids out two weeks ago by school officials. The girls’ adoptive mother, Colleen Cook, told Boston’s 25 News that she received a call from the school informing her that students weren’t allowed to wear ‘anything artificial or unnatural in their hair.’”
The site says Colleen Cook responded, “We told them, ‘There’s nothing wrong with their hair the way it is. Their hair is beautiful, there’s no correcting that needs to be done.’” She added that the hair policy seems to target “only students of color, who wear their hair in braids or extensions reflecting their African-American culture.”
Colleen Cook also alleges all the Black children were “marched down for a hair inspection, whether they had braids or not, and asked, ‘Are those extensions, are your braids real or not?’” Sounds an awful lot like a stop and frisk.
The school’s interim director, Alexander Dan, said the policy aims to serve a “diverse student population” that fosters “a culture that emphasizes education rather than style, fashion or materialism. Our policy on hair extensions, which tend to be very expensive, is consistent with, and a part of, the educational environment that we believe is so important to our students’ success,” according to Newsweek.