Salon owner Danay Helena did a double take when a client showed her a photo of the hair guidelines at Narvie J. Harris Theme School in Decatur, Georgia.
“I was like, ‘No way is this real,'" Helena told TODAY Style. "I thought it had to be a joke."
It was no joke.
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When parents arrived at an orientation event last week, they were greeted with a poster featuring black children whose eyes were shielded by Post-It notes. On the left side were “appropriate haircuts” for boys, all of which were short. “Inappropriate” looks included Mohawks and or styles with etchings.
As for girls, braids adorned with colorful ribbons or bows were deemed a no-no.
"Where are the pictures of kids of other races? That's what I want to know,” Helena, who is African American, said. “It felt really discriminatory. The ‘inappropriate’ styles showed boys with natural hair texture. That’s just how our hair grows out of our scalp.”
An outraged Helena shared the image in question on Facebook where it quickly went viral with more than 4,000 shares since Thursday.
“This is straight up racism. Makes me sick,” wrote one person. “Added another, “How ridiculous! Leave the kids alone, and let them be who they are.”
Helena noted that students at Narvie J. Harris wear a uniform and hair is a way for them to express their individuality.
Officials at the DeKalb County School District took action as soon as they were made aware of the issue on Thursday.
“The poster was the result of a miscommunication relating to appearance rules at school,” DCSD told TODAY in an email. “Once the district was made aware of the poster, it was immediately removed. In addition, a letter was sent to parents clarifying the school’s dress code and appearance policy.”
This is not the first time a school has come under fire for their policies on hair. In January, writer Tiffany L. Brown accused Spring Valley Elementary School in Hewitt, Texas, of racism after her son was sent home for wearing dreadlocks. Last summer, an 11-year-old African American girl in Louisiana was asked to leave because of her braided extensions.
New York and California are the only two states to have laws preventing hair-style based discrimination in schools and the workplace.