A Louisiana principal is at the center of controversy following a racially insensitive text message that was sent out to parents regarding a trending hairstyle commonly worn by African American boys. According to The Rouge Collection, Erica Walker, principal of Redemptorist Elementary School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, reportedly sent a mass text message to the parents of boys in kindergarten to seventh grade.
Principle Walker voiced her concerns about the “nappy/uncombed, unmaintained, picked/sponged” style that has become quite popular among African American male children and young men. Here’s the dialogue of the mass text message that’s going viral:
“This message is for all parents of boys in K-7th grade. I understand that the boys want to follow the latest fashion trend however the “Nappy Uncombed, Unmaintained, Picked/Sponged” look Must Go! It is getting out of hand. If their haircut is higher than one inch it must be cut.”
For those who aren’t familiar with the hairstyle Principal Walker is referring to, here’s an example:
If you look closely at the young man’s hair, you’ll notice the sponged look toward the top of his head. Although his hair is expertly cut with a flair of professionalism and precision, Principle Walker isn’t pleased with this look if the child’s hair is higher than one inch. According to WBRZ, the Redemptorist handbook does include specifications about hairstyles.
“Boys’ hair must be clean and well groomed with a traditional, conservative cut. Hair length in back is above the shirt collar with the front hair length clearly above the eye brows. Sculptured designs or lines, shaved heads, braids, tails in the hair, Mohawks, afros and tinted hair are not allowed. Side burns are not to be shaved above the natural hair line.”
However, many parents still don’t believe the handbook regulations coincide with the text message they received. Despite the regulations detailed in the handbook, the offensive way the message was worded has sparked outrage.
Almost immediately after the mass text message was sent, parents began expressing their frustrations. In fact, parents Devin Antoine and Kirstan Brooks, who have two sons at the school, shared their reaction to the text. In addition to its offensive nature, they also insisted that it lacked professional etiquette.
“I was offended for my son and myself, being a natural, African-American woman,” Brooks said. “It’s pretty clear that this would only apply to the African-American young men because the handbook states that the front of the hair should be above the eyebrows and the back above the shirt collar, which is well over an inch. How do you explain to your 6-year-old that he may have to cut his naturally curly hair which he has been comfortable with for years, because his school doesn’t want them with ‘NAPPY’ hair (like his) that is over an inch long? Everything about this message was offensive and unprofessional from the punctuation to the choice of words. Even if this didn’t apply to my son, I would still be offended as an African-American.”
The controversial incident has sparked a heated debate in the Baton Rouge area for many reasons. As expected, it has ignited another intense discussion about racial relations in the metropolitan area, as local citizens have mixed opinions about the principal’s seemingly offensive text message.
While many citizens agree the text message is racially offensive, there are others who argue rules are made to be followed despite how they offend people. But, apparently, the confusion doesn’t end there. An overwhelming number of frustrated Facebook users have criticized the city’s local news stations because the online news outlet that first published the story around 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 24 has not been credited for breaking the story.
Apparently, local news outlets did not run the story until after the 10:00 p.m. news segment, but the online news outlet was not sourced. Gary Chambers, the author who reported the story, took to social media with a stinging response to the alleged oversight by the local news stations and The Advocate.
On Feb. 26, Principal Walker reportedly sent home a statement of apology for the text message. The Catholic Diocese has also released a statement addressing the issue. “We are certain it was not the intent of any communication from the school to be offensive to anyone and we are sure that the matter will be handled appropriately through the proper channels.”
Do you find the Principal Walker’s text message derogatory? Share your thoughts.
[Image via WBRZ Screen Capture]