Student efforts add cultural awareness to Durham schools dress code

Posted March 19, 2016
Updated March 20, 2016

— February is Black History Month. This year, a group of female students at the Durham School for Creative Studies sought to celebrate by wearing colorful African head wraps on Feb. 1.

The head wraps, also known as geles, are worn as a representation of cultural heritage. However, school officials told the students they were not allowed to wear geles because it was in violation of the school’s dress code. The girls were also threatened with suspension.

One parent, Afiya Carter, said, "There should not be a situation where people should have to leave pieces of themselves at the door in order to receive free, public education."

Another public school parent, Joy Harrell, added, "What was supposed to be positive was taken and turned into something negative, and they were made to feel like they had done something wrong."

In response, students and parents assembled outside of the school. One parent explained that she did not consider their act to be a protest, but rather a demonstration of support for the young girls. Parents wanted the students to know that they were not wrong for expressing their culture.

"I think it’s really important for people to stand up for what they believe in and to make their opinions known, and that’s what I try to do,” said Creative Studies student Assata Goff.

Durham Public Schools have since approved new policies that allow a principal to make cultural exemptions to the dress code. No one from the school district was willing to comment on the issue, saying that it had been resolved and that they had moved on.

Staci Green is a senior Mass Communications / Broadcast Media major at North Carolina Central University. She operates a small photography business and hopes to apply her skills as a sports reporter, photographer and author.


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