It’s a Cultural Thing!

Should Culture be Taken Into Consideration When It Comes to Dress Code?

Keonna McQuerry, Staff Writer

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“It’s important that the people making the rules of a diverse school, has a diverse staff. That way everything is fair””

— Theresa McQuerry

All schools have dress codes, and all dress codes are different depending on where you go, but one rule we all know and are all familiar with is the: “No hats or headgear” rule. Obviously, if you wear something like a Hijab or any type of headgear that represents a religion, then this rule does not apply to you, but what if you wear headgear (i.e a headscarf), not for any type of religion, but for a culture, should this rule still apply to you?

On April 12, I was dress coded for having my hair wrapped up in a scarf. I was told to either take it off or spend the rest of the day in the Dean’s office (an in-school detention). Instead of taking my scarf off or sitting in the office for the rest of the day, I decided to go home. Later that day, I thought about the situation and felt that what had happened was not ok, so I decided to post a statement about it on my snapchat stating, “Today I was dress coded for having my hair wrapped up.” I continued, “ This is not the first time I have worn my hair wrapped to school, and I just think it’s ridiculous that I was told to take [my scarf] off. It’s a cultural thing, therefore I feel that I should not have been told to take [my scarf] off.” After posting this, I received a lot of positive feedback from people agreeing with me and a lot of people reposting my Snap, saying how they felt the situation was wrong. Samantha Willits ‘19, was one of the people who reposted my Snap, “ I felt that it was morally wrong of the LCN staff to discriminate against what someone wears for their culture,” she stated. Many others felt the same way about the situation. Jada Ennis ‘19, stated, “ I think it was wrong.” She continued, “ It was not a hat and it represents black culture. Same with durags. You wouldn’t do that with a Hijab for someone’s religion then why would you dress code someone for representing their culture. It just doesn’t make sense to me.” Ennis, and many more black students had the same opinion. Another student, Sarah Ip, ‘19, stated, “I think that dress code policy should allow cultural accessories to be allowed.” Cara Verlinde, ‘19, agreed and stated, “ I feel like the dress code itself is flawed.” She continued, “ I see people that are in violation of the dress code every day, but only select people actually get dress coded, and for someone to get dress coded over their culture because it’s a ‘distraction’, but people get by with all this other stuff and not a word is said to them, is just wrong.”

Although a lot of the feedback I received was positive, the dress code policy does actually state that hats, bands, scarfs, or any kind of headgear is prohibited unless it is for religious reasons. So technically, yes, I was breaking the dress code, but what needs to be understood is that L’Anse Creuse High School North, even though it is a predominantly white school, still has a fair share of black students who attend this school, and as a black female, I attest that hair is a process! When I have to get my hair done, I have to set appointments days in advance and a lot of the time, the appointments are days away. I do not have the luxury of waking up in the morning and throwing my hair up in a messy bun. I have very coarse, thick, curly hair that sometimes looks presentable, but other times isn’t, so to keep from being a distraction by walking around with messy hair, and instead of damaging my hair with heat, I wrap it. Other black students agree with this. Mary McFadden ‘19, stated, “I personally wear my hair wrapped up to protect my hair from external damage.” she continued, “ I use [a headscarf] as a protective style; where some other cultures of people may not understand due to their lack of knowledge and personal experience on the topic.” The same reasons go for why guys wear durags. As a protective style. Daniel Showers ‘19 stated, “ Its gives me a sense of identity, and culture.” he continues, “ I also do it as a way to protect my waves.”

After this incident with me getting dress coded, I told my mother about it. She did come to the school, and she talked to Mr. Poljanac about what happened.He did explain that I was breaking the dress code because it does specify that scarves are not allowed. But then my mom wanted to explain why black people cover their hair from time to time. So, she talked to Mrs. Rawski. “I wanted to explain to her the culture behind why black girls and boys wear scarves and durags,” my mother explained. “I told her how our hair is different and how taking care of [our hair] is gone about differently.” Mrs. Rawski was taking in everything my mother was saying and informed my mother about the round table meeting the administrators have, and invited her to come join their next meeting, and shed some light on this topic. “I told [Mrs. Rawski] that the staff needs to be more diverse,” my mother suggested. “It’s important that the people making the rules of a diverse school, has a diverse staff. That way everything is fair.”