Vanessa VanDyke said she was given one week to decide to whether cut her hair or leave Faith Christian Academy in Orlando, a school she's been going to since the third grade. But for now, she and her mother do not plan to change her hair because it is part of the 12-year-old's identity. But her natural hair style comes with a cost.--------------------------
"It says that I'm unique," said VanDyke. "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." (source)
As more children with natural hair begin to face the harsh reality of world views and stereotyping at at younger age in schools, we find ourselves in front a very sensitive debate. How do you balance a child's authentic existence with the rules of their environment and the unfair nature of this world?
While I don't have children, I have tremendous respect for the parents that find themselves in this situation. I don't see many parents bending on what seems to be natural to their children. They simply choose to honor their child by finding a school more understanding and supportive of them. I find that to be a beautiful affirmation of who they are while giving them the space to understand themselves in a harsh world.
As a community, I think we should help affirm the choices of those children and their parents by simply continuing to extend the natural hair love we have for each other to our little ones as well. When I see a little natural cutie, I can't help but let them know it. I suppose its my way of letting them know for every person they encounter that may think they are different, there is someone who thinks they are a part of a community.
How do you help the children in your life find balance between being themselves and any cruel encounters they might have with others about their hair?