My Culture Is Not A Threat (Racial Discrimination In the Dress Code)


Photo taken by Truth Marsh. Sarah Brunson and Cordero Ward wearing their protective/cultural headwear.

The dress code and what it consists of is not a secret, I mean it’s hammered into our minds the day we step into this school. But, like we are conditioned to do, we usually comply. I mean sure people break it here and there, but an uproar is rarely caused. Until it infringes upon the expression of not only one’s authentic self, but their culture and the care of their hair. 

A bonnet and durag are both detrimental to culture and care. So whether its intentional targeting or ignorance, nonetheless it is discriminatory and something that needs to be spoken on. One could  rebuttal my statement with, “you can’t wear one in a workplace.” But, along with that you couldn’t wear shorts or sweats or hoodies, which are all permitted under the dress code and are worn daily. 

Another argument is not being able to recognize a student when they wear one, this argument is tricky and I feel it is controversial one. I wanna preface this by saying culture and religion are very different and hold different importance to each person. I am aware that it is necessary to most people who follow the religion of Islam to wear a hijab and of course by federal law, as they should, our school allows it. 

How is there no conflict of  recognition with one wearing a headscarf but one who wears a bonnet/durag? There is no argument that one (hijab) is more important than the other (durag/bonnet). But the school’s reasoning is contradicting and misleading. 

Photo taken by Truth Marsh. Phillip Johnson CCHS senior, wearing his durag.

I interviewed a multitude of people in regards to the topic, but in specific people who are apart of the culture that wears them and feels the affect of the restriction against them, one being a CCHS senior student, Philip Johnson states, ¨I dislike the fact that we cant wear durags because usually the reason we cant wear durags is due to the fact that the ¨non cultured people¨ think that its apart of a gang or as a bad reputation.¨ This is such a huge issue, the ignorance of what it actually means is incredibly insensitive, outdated and flat out discriminative. 

Phillip also mentions, ¨In all actuality, this is something that is positive to our culture. It protects our hair, we as black people have different hair and this is something we use to care for it, its just something that we as a community have carried for years in a positive way and its just sad that its seen so negatively. “Along with this I asked people if they felt it was targeted in anyway. According to Mr.Matt Wilson CCHS faculty, ¨It can be depicted towards a certain group of people because there are other ethnic groups who are allowed to wear headwear and its appropriate, yet this is out our (African American) cultural headwear and we´re not¨ 

I of course, while asking how people felt about it, also thought of ways we could change this while also accommodating the safety precautions some say are needed. Matt also stated, ¨If we stopped viewing durags and bonnets with the negative image that we do, I can see the dress code being altered. If safety is still a concern, they can be checked when they walk in the school, to see if there’s something hidden underneath. I have no problem following that, if that means we get that.¨

All in all, the stigma behind the durags and bonnets are something I feel are completely, for one outdated and for two racists. It was something that was implemented and put into the minds of all people across America so long ago. There’s been a switch in the way the world works and I feel CCHS needs to notice and recognize it, instead of sitting on an uneducated opinion stripping people of their culture and labeling it as ¨dangerous¨