Sharika Jolly shares that her 8-year-old daughter Makiyah-Jae told her that she wanted to straighten her hair and dye it blonde, and she had been looking for ways to build her self-esteem.
“I’m like ‘No, baby. That’s not you. This is who you are. You don’t have to be like anyone else but yourself. And I feel like she should be comfortable in her own skin,” said Jolly.
In response, Sharika brought her daughter a “Black Girls Rock” shirt. The popular slogan was coined by celebrity DJ Beverly Bondwho runs a non-profit with the same name. Bond also executive produces the annual Black Girls Rock awards show on BET which celebrates and promotes women empowerment.
Even though Makiyah had worn her shirt to school several times before, the principal of Popps Ferry Elementary made the little girl change clothes. When she arrived home, Sharika called the principal in search of answers.
“When I asked him what was the reason for him taking the shirt off of her, he said, ‘You’re right. It’s not in the policy. Nowhere in the policy does it state that the shirt is out of dress code,’” said Sharika. “He said they made a judgment call, then I proceeded to ask well who are the judges judging my eight year old. And he said ‘Well, I’m the principal so I made the call.’”
Sharika then contacted the school district and two days later, she received a formal apology from the superintendent.
“The principal said they got to thinking about it. We were trying to avoid a conflict,” said Arthur McMillan, Biloxi Schools Superintendent. “In today’s world we think about all the politically correct things that we don’t want to offend anybody; probably overreached in this situation.”
While the exact thought process behind the principal reprimanding the 8-year-old is unknown, we imagine that he associated “Black Girls Rock” with “Black Lives Matter”, a movement that seeks to bring awareness and justice to African American’s who are victims of police brutality.
However, a quick google search could have eased the principal’s fears that the little girl was doing nothing more than wearing an empowerment t-shirt.