Black Student Says a Group of White Bullies Cut Off Her Locs at School

The school has since responded. 

Woman holding her hair
Photo: Fancy/Veer/Corbis/Getty Images

UPDATE: Stephen Danish, head of Immanuel Christian School in Virginia confirmed to ESSENCE via email that Allen's accusations were false. “We’re grateful to the Fairfax County Police Department for their diligent work to investigate these allegations,” he said. “While we are relieved to hear the truth and bring the events of the past few days to a close, we also feel tremendous pain for the victims and the hurt on both sides of this conflict. We recognize that we now enter what will be a long season of healing."

Allen's family also released a statement as well. “We understand there will be consequences, and we’re prepared to take responsibility for them,” they said. “We know that it will take time to heal, and we hope and pray that the boys, their families, the school and the broader community will be able to forgive us in time.”

There's no word yet on whether or not Allen will face any disciplinary action.

Twelve-year-old student Amari Allen has had a distressing few months.

Since the beginning of the 2019 school year, Allen says she's been constantly bullied by a group of three unnamed white, male students at Immanuel Christian School in Virginia, where her family pays around $12,000 a year for her tuition. But the taunting took a turn for the worst on Sept. 23 when she says the boys forcibly cut off her locs during recess.

“They put me on the ground," she told The New York Times last week. "One of them put my hands behind my back. One put his hands over my mouth. One cut my hair. They were saying that my hair was ugly, that it was nappy.”

Afterwards, "They ran off laughing, and I was just sitting there," Amari told CBS affliate WUSA9.

Following the incident, the school released a statement to several news outlets, showing support for Allen. "We take seriously the emotional and physical well-being of all our students, and have a zero-tolerance policy for any kind of bullying or abuse," the private school wrote. "We are deeply disturbed by the allegations being made, and are in communication with the family of the alleged victim to gather information and provide whatever support we can. We have also reached out to law enforcement to ask them to conduct a thorough investigation, and further inquiries should be directed to the Fairfax County Police."

It's unclear where the school's teachers were during the disturbing ordeal.

"It's very painful," Amari's grandmother, Cynthia Allen, told WUSA9. "I want to see them dismissed from the school. I want to see something done."

While what happened to the 12-year-old is quite disturbing, this is certainly not the first time black children have faced discrimination for wearing their hair in locs to school. In 2018, Clinton Stanley Jr., a first-grade student, was not allowed to attend his first day at A Book’s Christian Academy in Florida because of his hair. Likewise, at the beginning of 2019, another student in Texas was sent home with a note addressed to his mother asking her to "please cut" his hair by Jan. 8 in response to the school's dress code policy.

Both California and New York have officially made natural hair discrimination illegal in the workplace. But hopefully these laws will soon expand into school systems across the country.

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