A Toronto eighth grader’s aunt made a Facebook post explaining that her niece was sent to the principal’s office last week because of her natural hair.
The 13-year-old was wearing her hair in a natural style, although the teen usually wears braids or has her hair pulled back, her mother, Teresa, told CityNews. But on the day she decided to wear it down, Amesbury Middle School Principal Tracey Barnes told her that her hairstyle was “too puffy,” “unprofessional,” and “no one would hire her with hair like that,” according to the post by Kaysie Quansah, the student’s aunt.
Barnes, a Black woman, gave the young girl a scrunchy and told her she would be sent back to the principal’s office if she ever wore her hair like that again, which reduced the student to tears, Quansah wrote.
“I didn’t see what the big deal was about my hair because it wasn’t bothering anybody,” the girl told CityNews. “I was just doing my work, so I didn’t see why I had to be pulled out of the class.”
When Quansah learned that the principal was Black, she figured that a mentality of self-hate was likely instilled in the woman. She said a negative attitude about afro-textured hair may have been “drilled into her when she was younger.”
“Now she’s projecting that onto little Black girls that may have reminded her of herself,” Quansah said of Barnes.
The Toronto District School Board’s communications officer, Ryan Bird, expressed that while Amesbury is a school that enforces uniforms, hair is not covered in the dress code.
“The school and superintendent are following up with the family to address any concerns they may have,” Bird said in a statement to CityNews. “It’s our understanding that this interaction was not about hairstyle.”
Quansah wrote that she was hurt by the way her niece was treated, but that she still intends to teach the teen that “beauty starts from within.”