When Tionna Norris’ daughter, Amia, brought home a letter from her teacher earlier this week, Norris got a shock. The note complained about the coconut oil Norris sometimes uses in Amia’s hair.
The letter, signed only by Carol, reads:
“I understand the necessary of coconut oil on Amia’s hair, but please do not use as much. The children were complaining that her hair ‘stinks.’ If you have to apply this daily — please do so lightly, so the kids don’t tease her.”
At first, a stunned Norris posted to Facebook the letter along with a picture of her daughter and the message “*applies the same amount of coconut oil *y’all gone feel that black girl magic. Sincerely, unapologetically black mom. P.s. Coconut oil has no stinky smell.”
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This post went viral, with 11,000 people reacting to it and 5,000 sharing it. People shared messages of support with Norris and Amia. And it also prompted and apology from the teacher and the school.
While Norris worried about Amia being bullied, she also felt the letter sparked some serious questions. Shouldn’t the teacher try to stop bullying? And, why did she think that Amia was the student with coconut oil in her hair?
“I was extremely offended and hurt for my child. To assume that the coconut oil came from her hair just because she is a natural child is ridiculous,” Norris wrote in a follow-up post on Facebook. “Coconut oil was not used on the style and that's why I was so mad because it was stereotypical to assume the natural girl in the class applied too much oil to her hair.”
Norris wanted answers and met with the director of the school. In another follow-up Facebook post, she revealed what she learned in the meeting.
“I found out that no child ever bullied Amia (she's actually quite popular) and the word ‘stink’ was used in quotes because she knew it didn't have a foul odor. It was just something the teacher was not used to and thought it was heavy (she has a sensitive nose so she says) they have fully taken responsibility and understands why it's so offensive. They also would like to apologize to anyone the letter may have offended.”
While Norris tried resolving things with the school, a recent Facebook post indicates that Amia will be attending a new school.
"This situation with my daughter has me stressed the hell out and ready to go CRAZY. She out of that school and it's off my mind," Norris wrote.