Courtesy of the Cook family
Aaron Cook (left), Mya and Deanna Cook, 15, and Colleen Cook (right).
As white parents of bristles atramentous children, Deanna and Aaron Cook accept accomplished their ancestors to abound blubbery skin. They’ve endured odd looks at the grocery abundance in Malden, Massachusetts, and abandoned aberrant comments from Wal-Mart greeters.
But nothing, Aaron Cook told The Washington Post, absolutely able them for the month-long action they’ve been angry with the Mystic Valley Regional Allotment Academy over their daughters’ hair.
On April 14, twins Deanna and Mya Cook, 15, told their parents they capital to accept their beard professionally braided. The girls had consistently braided it themselves or had it chemically straightened, but as adolescence they were acquirements added about atramentous ability and capital to try article new.
Soon after, they went to academy with long, braided hair.
The abutting day, the girls were alleged to the appointment for a “uniform infraction.”
Hair extensions are banned in the accessible allotment school’s apprentice handbook, alongside attach polish, architecture and absolute beard because it is “distracting.” An ambassador told Deanna and Mya that their new braids — which amalgamate bogus beard with their own beard — abandoned that rule.
The girls were instructed to abolish their braids and they refused. The policy, they argued, was abominable adjoin African-American acceptance and anyhow enforced.
With anniversary day since, punishments from the academy accept escalated, Aaron Cook said, so abundant so that he and his wife eventually approved advice from the NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League and the American Civil Liberties Union. Deanna, a agent who able for the accompaniment finals, has been kicked off the academy clue team. Mya was removed from the softball aggregation and told she couldn’t appear the prom.
Last week, the fourth in turmoil, concluded with the girls on the bounded account and aciculate statements of abutment from the accompaniment affiliation of allotment schools, the ADL and the Lawyers’ Lath for Civil Rights and Economic Justice.
“Denying adolescent atramentous women their befalling to accurate their cultural character will not accomplish the academy safer, added orderly, or beneath ‘distracting,’” the lath said in a statement. “It will abate your students, and abate your ranks. Doing this to aerial academy acceptance at a time back they are acquirements about self-expression and self-advocacy is decidedly troubling.”
In response, Interim Academy Director Alexander Dan beatific a letter to all Mystic Valley parents arresting the policy. The allotment school, the letter said, “promotes equity” with dress cipher behavior that abate “visible gaps amid those of altered means.”
“The specific prohibition on beard extensions, which are big-ticket and could serve as a appropriate agency amid acceptance from antithetical socioeconomic backgrounds, is constant with our admiration to actualize such an educational environment, one that celebrates all that our acceptance accept in accepted and minimizes absolute differences and distractions,” Dan wrote. “Any advancement that it is based on annihilation abroad is artlessly wrong.”
Cook beneath to acknowledge how abundant the ancestors paid for the able braiding, but said the absolute bag of bogus beard was alone bristles dollars. According to an assay by the Boston Globe, beard extensions alloyed into braids in the greater Boston breadth can amount amid $50 to $200 and aftermost up to three months. That price, Cook told The Post, is no added big-ticket than the actinic straightening Deanna and Mya had ahead done and on par with the amount of added hairstyles.
Frustrated acceptance at the academy Friday told the Boston Globe that they had accomplished ancestral benightedness at the school, which is amid about 10 afar arctic of Boston.
The apprentice anatomy is adequately diverse, which is allotment of the acumen the Cooks chose it years ago for their bristles adopted children. Of the 1,500 acceptance there in grades K-12, 43 percent are bodies of blush and aural that, 17 percent are black, according to numbers from U.S. Account and World Report.
But aloof one of the 170 agents and staffers at Mystic Valley is black, appear the Boston Globe, and Cook said there are no African Americans on the school’s lath of trustees.
“That has to change,” he told The Post.
Cook added: “The academy needs some austere assortment training.”
Other adolescent women of blush accept beat their beard in braided extensions before, but the Cooks affirmation there was a crackdown on acceptance afterwards bounce breach of this year.
Another mother at the school, Annette Namuddu, told the Globe that her babe was assigned a apprehension for cutting braids to school. Back she banned to abolish them, the apprehension angry into a suspension.