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Jennifer Davis Bowman

How to Lose a Diverse Student in 8 Days

A couple of years ago my daughter tried out for the cheerleading team. As part of the process, the girls were required to wear their hair in a long ponytail with spiral curls plus a bow. Although there is nothing surprising about these expectations, it caused me to pause. My daughter is African American with very thick hair (think The Lion King). In order to style her hair in a ponytail, there is a lot involved. There is hair washing, drying, and straightening. In addition, there is holding gel, curling tools—and this is just the beginning! Although with time, sweat, and effort, we could accomplish this ponytail ideal, I began to think about the other African American students that did not have the natural hair length needed in order to create a long ponytail with spiral curls. Wow. I could not believe that something as simple as a hairstyle could serve to separate students from one another. More importantly, it seemed that something as simple as a hairstyle could separate the opportunities afforded to particular students.

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