Local Deb's All Dressed Up With No Place To Go
Posted October 26, 1998
GARNER — A Garner high school senior who was ready to attend her debutante ball will be spending the night at home instead. Michelle Barskile has been told she won't be allowed to attend because of her dreadlocks. Barskile says that's discrimination.
The honor roll student has already been accepted at five universities. When she was invited to become an Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority debutante, it was no surprise.
But after attending five meetings, Barskile was told the only way she could attend the debutante ball was to wear her hair up on top of her head.
"They said 'No, you won't be allowed,' Barskile says. "I'm not going to look like a fool with my hair on top of my head."
Barskile says her locks are part of her individuality. By not allowing a traditional African-American hairstyle, she says, Alpha Kappa Alpha is denying its African-American heritage.
"That's why black sororities were started," Barskile says, "because white sororities were discriminating against them. For this sorority to have formed for that reason, they're discriminating against their own."
So Barskile's dreadlocks will stay where they are, and her $500 dress will stay in the closet.
"I would have liked to have worn it, and danced with my father in it," Barskile says. "It hurts, but I'll try not to let it affect me."
Barskile says she's considering her legal options.
Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority leaders did not return our phone calls.
Reporter: Todd HauerPhotographer: Dave Renner