Tiana Parker Controversy Continues; Legislators Say Hair Policy Must Be Reviewed

Tiana Parker is only 7 years old, but she may just be a catalyst of change in Oklahoma.  Not only has she received support and encouragement from countless strangers, but now the state’s legislature is looking into the policy at the Deborah Brown Community School which bans  “hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks and other faddish styles.”  State Sen. Jabar Shumate and state Rep. Kevin Matthews issued statements in response to national outrage over a Tulsa charter school’s policy.

Matthews, the vice chair of the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, wants to facilitate a discussion over the policy.

“We are working to bring the school administrators and board members together with the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus members to coordinate a review of these policies,” said Matthews, D-Tulsa. “Although direct legislative action is not an option of addressing the issue in the short term, school policies can be addressed, reviewed, or changed by the Deborah Brown Community School’s internal board.”

The Deborah Brown Community School has a track record of academic excellence, Matthews said.

“The Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus values education as one of our top priorities,” Matthews said. “The Deborah Brown Community School has a proven track record for academic success, but we do not want their reputation marred by controversy that could be resolved by all parties having a meaningful dialogue.”

Shumate said he is concerned about the 7-year-old girl’s self-esteem.

“Our hearts go out to the parents and family of this 7-year-old promising student,” said Shumate, D-Tulsa. “We don’t want any child to feel like their educational opportunities are being infringed upon.”

Pittman, the chair of the caucus, said she wants to review the policies to ensure they are appropriate.

“We always want to promote culturally and linguistically sensitive policies because we believe all children can learn,” said Pittman, D-Oklahoma City.

Although Tiana is no longer at the Deborah Brown Community School, it would be interesting to see if the policy will change and benefit other students attending.

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  • beauty unconventional

    I am so glad that change is being considered! IT is amazing what sounding off can do!

  • MimiLuvs

    My home is surrounded by three different chapter schools. All of the schools’ student populations are diverse (in regards to racially, religiously, ethnically, etc.) and their dress codes appear lax (despite the fact that the students wear uniforms). The administration staff are not concerned about their hairstyles.
    I think this charter’s school ruling stems from the not-so-secret that is a part of the Black American culture: the white-assimilation.

    • Travis

      Great point.

  • this is great news to hear! little tiana has made a big difference. she’s so adorable.

  • Huey

    No, this is not all that great of news. The schools policy is obviously a cultural attack much like the requirement of cutting Native American children’s hair when they were introduced to the American school system. Simply because they CONSIDER the repeal of this policy, it’s very likely almost guaranteed that are children will continue to come under cultural attack w/in the US school system. It is the height of insanity that we find cause to insist that those who attack us “educate” our children. And I do consciously use that word “educate” rather loosely.

    Can you imagine a Palestinian sending their child off to a Jewish school to be educated… or a Protestant person sending their child off to a Catholic school, etc. No because they’re smart enough to know who their enemies are. We’ve been so indoctrinated and conditioned till we can no longer recognize who our enemies are so we celebrate our ability to have our children educated by the same system that would soon jail them or have them grovelling for jobs.

    Who thought us to think this way?!?!?!

    • Angelina

      Good point!

    • MKP

      I went to a Catholic school from pre school-12th grade, but was born, raised, and very active in my AME Church (I still am at 26), and I’m just fine. If anything, it helped me be more tolerant of others and their beliefs and ideas.

  • chisha

    It is interesting that they make the use of the word faddish styles. who defines a fad, why would dreadlocks or an afro be a fad? I think afro is the way black peoples hair is naturally. Would they prefer bald heads while we wait for our hair to not be faddish? or perhaps a doctors note