Malden Twins Being Punished For Braids Isn’t Racist

Malden Twins Being Punished For Braids Isn’t Racist

entertainment/pop culture politics 9 comments by

A story has been making the rounds about Malden twins being suspended and facing numerous penalties for wearing box braid extensions to Mystic Valley Regional Charter School. This has been portrayed as a racist school administration cruelly targeting two innocent black girls for no other reason than to harvest and ferment the tears of black youth. Their adoptive white parents are taking action against the school, as they too believe their daughters are being unfairly targeted. But Malden is 14 miles away from me, and I can still smell the bullshit.

The Malden twins aren’t facing these penalties because they’re black. They’re facing penalties because they’re in direct violation of their school’s policies. And though the policy is being construed as discriminatory against black students, there is no racial language or undertone to the rule in question. It forbids any student from wearing hair extensions. Hair extensions. It doesn’t single out braids, twists, dreadlocks, or any other style blatantly associated with the black community. So why do these twins, their parents, or the mob they’ve incited think they’re an exception?

In an interview, one of the Malden twins spoke of her braids as her “culture” and something that she, as a black girl, “needed” for her hair. Despite liberals constantly questioning and challenging my “blackness” I’ve been black for all 23 years of my life, and the first time I got extensions was a week ago. And not because they were fundamental to my wellbeing, but because I needed a hairstyle that would fit under my graduation cap and didn’t want to waste time straightening my hair because of the rainy forecast. No one needs extensions anymore than they need nail polish or makeup.

To claim that extensions are somehow essential to black girls’ identities is painfully ironic. Why? Many of the same people outraged by this incident are the same people that are offended when black women are asked if their hair is real. They’re the same people so quick to remind you that “white women do it too” whenever there’s a conversation about black women and weave. So which is it? Are hair extensions a universal insignificant cosmetic enhancement or an integral part of the black woman’s experience?

And before someone brings up the protective style argument, save it for someone that’ll buy it. People love that excuse when all too often black women are more concerned with protecting their egos than their hair.

As bizarre as their school’s policies may be, they aren’t racist. 

Thomas Sowell said it best: “When people get used to preferential treatment, equal treatment seems like discrimination.”

I’m hoping that a day comes in our near future where our instinct isn’t to default to accusations of bigotry, but to think critically and contextually. In the meantime, I wish those twins the best.

9 Comments

  1. Why is there a policy against wearing hair extensions though? I certainly understand a dress code, but hair? I wonder what happened that made them think it was important enough to add to their code.

    • They also have policies against makeup and nail polish. They claim it’s so none of their students feel distracted or separated. As bizarre as it all is I think it’s unfair to call it racist

  2. I appreciate your commentary on this one. I don’t know if it’s really racist because it’s school policy, and I’m not sure if it was targeted to a particular group. I could be wrong, since this is not my expertise whatsoever. It’s a fine line I suppose.

  3. I’m not quite sure how I feel about this topic. But thanks for shedding some light on the conversation. I think we can all get behind that schools policies can be a little too ridgid

  4. I strongly disagree with your position. This is how racist policies in this country continue to exist. Just because a policy doesn’t explicitly state who it is targeting doesn’t mean it isn’t targeting specific populations as this policy does. There’s no need to specify black/brown children when they are likely the only ones to sport such hairstyles. So in effect, white students, for example, would overwhelmingly not be affected by such a policy. Kudos to their adoptive parents for not only recognizing the offense but speaking up about it on their behalf.

  5. This is a really interesting perspective. I’ll admit I haven’t even heard about this particular case, but I’ve heard many like it, and people often get angry and upset about things without looking at the details. If they interpret the details a certain way and still end up angry about it, that’s fine, but they should at least look at the details first.

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