- Created on 11 September 2013
TULSA, Okla. -- An Oklahoma charter school has changed its dress code after inciting criticism for telling a 7-year-old girl that her dreadlocks violated the school's policy.
Tiana Parker and her parents said she was summoned last month to the administrator's office at the Deborah Brown Community School in Tulsa and told her that her hairstyle was against school policy. Her parents later decided to move Tiana to another school.
But Monday night, the school board voted to change its policy that had banned dreadlocks, afros and other hairstyles. Dreadlocks are formed by matting or braiding hair.
The new policy says only that students and parents are responsible for personal hygiene and that administrators have the right to contact parents or guardians regarding such issues. There are no specifications on hair styles.
School board president Kenneth James said in a statement that it was not the school administration's intent to harm Tiana or her family and he apologized if any harm did occur.
James said the ban on dreadlocks, afros and other hairstyles was due to health and safety concerns.
A spokeswoman for the Parker family said family members were not available for an interview Tuesday. In a statement, Tiana's parents, Terrance and Miranda Parker, said no board decision could "change the fact that our 7-year-old daughter Tiana was made to feel that there was something wrong with her appearance, in turn coming home in tears."
They said they've been contacted by community leaders, civil rights advocates, women empowerment groups and attorneys, and are "exploring all of their options."
The Parkers did not attend Monday night's school board vote.
The school says nearly 100 percent of its students are African-American.
- Created on 10 September 2013
Controversy continues to brew over an Oklahoma charter school's dress code banning "hairstyles such as dreadlocks, afros, mohawks and other faddish styles."
The policy rose to national prominence last week when 7-year-old Tiana Parker spoke out about being reprimanded by Deborah Brown Community School officials for wearing dreadlocks.
State legislators are trying to coordinate a review of the policy.
"We are working to bring the school administrators and board members together with the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus members to coordinate a review of these policies," said state Senator Kevin Matthews (D-Tulsa) in a statement released to media. "Although direct legislative action is not an option of addressing the issue in the short term, school policies can be addressed, reviewed or changed by the Deborah Brown Community School's internal board."
Anastasia Pittmann (D-Oklahoma City), who chairs the Oklahoma Legislative Black Caucus, said she also wants to review the policy.
"We always want to promote culturally and linguistically sensitive policies because we believe all children can learn," Pittman noted in a statement.
Tiana's parents pulled her out of Deborah Brown after school officials said her hair was not "presentable." The school's Facebook page appears to have been deleted after a barrage of comments accused the dress code of being racist. A petition calling for the school to publicly apologize to Parker and change its policy had amassed more than 19,000 signatures by Monday afternoon.
"The fact remains that two of the hairstyles spelled out as being unacceptable in this school's policy are worn almost exclusively by African-Americans with natural hair. It might as well say that black girls must have their hair chemically straightened or covered with a weave in order to pass muster," reads the petition.
A school board meeting that will address the policy is reportedly taking place Monday evening, according to the Tulsa World. A public relations firm that represents Langston University, which sponsors Deborah Brown Community School, released the following statement about the meeting, per Tulsa World:
After a discussion between Langston University President Kent Smith and the superintendent of the school, Ms. Deborah Brown, it was mutually agreed that the policy in question should be changed. ... On Monday, Ms. Brown will propose a policy change to the school's board during a special meeting. Smith said he supports the change in the policy because it reflects an important value at Langston University to respect the individuality of students.
Still, a flyer that was found at the school suggests otherwise.
"Please Read: Our society continues to become more and more permissive," the flyer reads, according to Tulsa World. "However, it is an individual's right to choose to leave any organization if they do not want to conform to an established rule. As difficult as it is in some cases, DBCS will continue to enforce our stated policy regarding our dress code."
- Created on 09 September 2013
Toni Christina Jenkins (pictured) was working an afternoon shift on Saturday at the Red Lobster restaurant in Franklin, Tenn., where she says a Caucasian couple racially insulted her. After receiving their bill of nearly $45, they allegedly scribbled, "None Ni**er" in the tip section of the bill instead of leaving a customary gratuity, according to the Daily Mail.
The eatery is located in a very upscale suburban area, so when the 19-year-old waitress saw what her customers had written, it took her for a loop. Jenkins was so upset and disappointed by the racist words on the receipt, she decided to post a picture of the receipt on her Facebook page and penned the following:
"This is what I got as a tip last night...so happy to live in the proud southern states..God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low-class racists of Tennessee."
There are some who have accused the teen of actually writing the offensive words herself. Jenkins, however, told the Daily Mail that she would never concoct such a denigrating scheme and does not care if her customers tip her or not. The young teen claims she does not get tips all the time and that she views God as her provider.
However, some non-believers who are adamant that Jenkins penned the poisonous words herself took to Facebook to explain why they feel the receipt is a fake. One such non-believer expressed the following:
"As a black man, I simply don't believe this is real. The word 'none' has totally different handwriting from the word 'Ni**er.' There's lots of stories lately of people making false accusations of racism or discrimination for attention. I think you should just admit you did this yourself because you were mad he didn't tip you... This poor man is innocent and I think you are racist against white people.'
Regarding the pair who wrote the offensive words on the receipt's tip line, Jenkins described them as an odd pair who did not exchange niceties with her. She says the couple behaved gruffly and appeared to be in a hurry wanting their food to-go.
"When I went back to the table, they had gone and left the receipt and had written the comments," Jenkins told the Daily Mail.
After scrutinizing the shocking tip line, Jenkins took the piece of paper to her manager who was sympathetic, assuring her she did nothing wrong and told her she was undeserving of the blatant show of racism.
As to why Jenkins posted the receipt on her Facebook page, she told the Daily Mail, "It's all very surprising to me. When I posted it I thought it might get a few 'likes' from friends and family. People praying for me, that kind of thing. I didn't think it would escalate this quickly. I am just a 19-year-old nursing student."
Meanwhile, the corporate office that oversees the location where Jenkins works has suspended her with full pay pending further investigation of the matter.
- Created on 09 September 2013
A Florida State University (FSU) student accused of posting a racist video on her social media networks is claiming she was hacked.
In the 6-second video clip, first posted to Amanda Thurston's Vine account, a camera pans around a group of students at a bazaar at the college. It features a caption reading, "Welcome to FAMU...I mean FSU. #monkeyseverywhere." FAMU (Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University ) is a historically Black college.
The video spread to her Twitter and Facebook accounts, which were all deactivated.
Speaking with the Tallahassee Democrat last Friday, Thurston said someone broke into her social media accounts and posted the video. She also claimed to have filed a report with the FSU Police Department over the alleged hacking.
Though no suspects have been apprehended, assistant FSU chief Maj. Jim Russell confirmed Thurston's report and "we have started investigating an unlawful access to a computer case."
According to Russell, the possible hacking would constitute a second-degree felony. The department is also reaching out to the social media networks to locate where the hack may have originated.
"We're working backward from that," Russell said.
In the meantime, FSU officials released a statement on the incident last Thursday:
Late yesterday evening (9/4/2013) an inappropriate social media message regarding students at Florida State University and Florida A & M University was brought to the attention of the University. Florida State has zero tolerance for "racist speech," no matter which medium is used to communicate the message.
Florida State University is proud to be a diverse community with a longstanding tradition of respect for the dignity and worth of each person. We expect each member of our community to embrace the values of civility and ethical conduct and demonstrate respect for others and ourselves.
If Thurston's allegation is true, "then that person would be facing some serious charges," Russell added.