Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Little Black Girl's Response To Being Called Ugly

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases a video that was posted on facebook in which a four year old Black girl shares what her response was to a boy in her kindergarden class calling her ugly.

This post also provides information and comments about a seven year Black girl whose parents were told that they had to change her hairstyle in order for her to remain in that private school because dreadlocks (and afros) were prohibited. It's interesting to note that that private school is affiliated with a historically Black university, and almost all of its administration, staff, and students are Black.

The content of this post is presented for cultural and sociological reasons.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to Cici and her mother, and Tiana and her parents for sharing their stories with the world. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.

Sonya Love Siahj
Abaco Central High
January 20 [2015], reposted from

"Man listen, I weak. I asked my daughter how was school today and this is the story i got

"What happened in school today?" her mom, Sonya, asks in the video. "A little boy said I looked ... ugly," Cici responded.

"And what did you say?" Cici's mom asked.

"I said, 'I didn't come here to make a fashion statement. I came here to learn -- not look pretty,'" Cici replied, adding, "The little boy said I looked 'bad,' and I said, 'Did you look in a mirror lately? Bye bye, see you later, you're making me mad.'"
Explanation for the sentence "I was weak" = I was amused. (I laughed so hard that it made me feel weak.)
In spite of that response, hopefully Cici's mother recognizes the seriousness of this incident. Cici is quick on her feet with come backs to put downs, and she is also quite pretty. My guess is that her mother and other people compliment her on both of these attributes.

Here are selected comments from the website whose link is given above:
(All of the comments are from March 6, 2015)
Lynn Marie
"Cute and smart! She's going far! I love that she is so confident, at such a young age. I hope she makes good use of her quick mind all throughout her life.

Christine McCord , Indianapolis, Indiana
"I think she's cute as a button. But I can also say, she knows just how to hand a bully, they really can't stand up to a strong response."

Rhonda Lewis ·
"I am so proud of her, she is being taught well. BTW she is beautiful"

Elizabeth Reday, California State University, Los Angeles
"Don't worry CiCi...obviously that boy has a crush on you! You are too cute:)"

Jessica Anthony, Tinley Park, Illinois
"No. We need to stop telling little girls that boys hurting them means they like them. You wonder why women in abusive relationships often stay? It's because of this. They've been taught from a young age that boys hurting you, whether physically or verbally, means he actually loves you. It is a LIE."

Lauren Joiner, The University of Arizona
"Not gonna lie, she is pretty adorable. Even though she had an amazing reaction to that little boy, the way she paused before she could even say the word ugly makes me think that it did affect her."

Ebony Williams, Tallahassee, Florida
"Lauren Joiner...I saw the same thing. It did sting a little, but she bounced back and stood up for herself."

From the video found above, Cici's hair looks like it is in dreads (dreadlocks, locks). I wonder if the boy called Cici ugly because she has that natural style. Very few girls or boys in my city (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) have dreads. Often their parents have dreads or some other natural hair style (meaning, they don't use any chemicals or hot comb treatments to straighten their naturally tightly curly hair.)

From early ages children are taught through mass media that certain hairstyles are pretty and "normal". I believe that television, movies, videos, and books show a wider range of hairstyles then was the case when I was a child in the 1950s. For instance, a number of commercials and other mass media include Black females with "curly"/ "frizzy" hair. However, there are very few examples of adults or children with dreads on television and other mass media.
cadults with dreads are rarely seen in the mass media. I believe that results in children with dreads being teased because they are "different".

Children are often cruel towards someone who they consider to be different. Therefore, those children need even more positive reinforcement and "what to do if" coaching so that they can be at least somewhat prepared for likely putdowns and more.

Click for a related pancocojams post about actress, singer Zendaya's reaction to taunting remarks about the dreadlock hairstyle that she wore to the 2015 Academy Awards ceremony.

Also, click for the article "Tiana Parker, 7, Switches Schools After Being Forbidden From Wearing Dreads"
The administrators of a small private school in the state of Oklahoma informed the parents of a seven year old girl with dreads that her hairstyle was prohibited by school policy because "that hairstyle did not look “presentable,”and "distracting". That same school policy indicated that "afros","dreadlocks", and "mohawks" were prohibited because they were "fads". That girl's parents tried to get the school to change that policy, but eventually enrolled their daughter in another school where how she wears her hair isn't an issue.

Here are several comments from that article's discussion thread. (All comments are from September 5-6, 2013)
"Since when were dreads or afros a fad? They're a part of our heritage, our culture - our hair grows out into a natural afro, how is hair texture a fad? So basically she should chemically perm her hair and possibly cause damage to her scalp in order to "look appropriate"? This is disgusting."

"I proudly served my country in the Air Force working in mental health, with my dreadlocks. It was the first question I asked the recruiter. I value myself too much to be a part of an organization that is more concerned with what I have ON my head, than what I have IN my head. It is shameful for this school to teach children that what they look like naturally is somehow wrong or a bad decision. Damaging yourself with extremely harmful chemicals to look euro-centric, when you are not, is not an intelligent decision. This school could learn a thing or two from this child and her parents."

"When was the last time you saw a person of success with dreads? ..please..stop the tatoos..dreads..etc...

"The managing partner at the law firm down the street. the mayor of mt vernon. ny. A law professor at harvard."

Alice R.
"Banning protective styles for African-textured hair is equivalent to banning a French braid or chin bob in straight-haired -- excuse me, I meant white, because that's really what we're talking about -- people. I understand that there are a lot of people who just don't "get" how to take care of African hair. I had to have a biracial cousin and learn to do cornrows before it occurred to me that there was a major difference. But this is banning two of the most common and easiest to maintain hairstyles for black people. What, gonna demand you put a weave on a child of SEVEN so it looks pleasing to you? This reminds me of that school that had banned cornrows and "afro puffs," two other easy-to-maintain and protective hairstyles for African hair."

"Something is missing from this story. Their policy is a little TOO targeted and I'm surprised considering the sponsor of the school is Langston University, a predominantly and historically black college. So a child from an Indian Sikh household can have hair as long as they want, white girls can apparently let their hair grow as long as they want, but a child from Jamaica from a Rastafarian household can't have the religious freedom to wear dreads!!??"
Langston University is in Oklahoma.

Dottie T. (underground72)
"I agree.. I'm thinking black ran and operated. Maybe there thinking is dread is too connected to the street life instead of the clean black man image.."

Maurice B. (MoeB)

So let me get this straight...dreadlocks, which are a NATURAL hairstyle for blacks (and others, but blacks primarily), and is a GREAT way to grow our hair, is deemed terrible, but hair weaves are okay????

Natural hair = BAD.
Fake hair = GOOD?

Essentially what they're saying is, black hair is terrible, and thus the only 'presentable' hair must either BE from white people (weaves), or must LOOK like white hair (straightened, processed, etc.).

Des S. (Des_Shawn)
"I find this to be extremely sad. This is a baby..they shamed a baby. I commend her parents for pulling her out of the school, it clearly wasn't interested in truly educating children. When you spend more time worrying about what's on a child's head than what you can put in it, there is an issue. Black, white or indifferent, this was wrong."

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