A Biloxi, Mississippi mother is upset because her daughter had to remove her ‘Black Girls Rock’ t-shirt at school. Sharika Jolly says her daughter, Makiyah-Jae, didn’t always have high self-esteem, but the t-shirt was something she was proud of wearing.
“Before she wanted her hair straightened and colored blonde,” said Jolly. “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.”
Jolly said that was the reason she bought her daughter the t-shirt, made by the Black Girls Rock organization.
But when her daughter came home wearing a different shirt than the one she sent her to school with, Jolly contacted the principal at Popps Ferry Elementary.
“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 Jolly. “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.'”
Jolly was incensed with the principal’s answer and then contacted the school district.
“It took two days but he did apologize,”said Jolly. “I accepted the apology, but my concern is how many other kids have been discriminated against at that school and their parents have not spoken up.”
Biloxi Schools Superintendent Arthur McMillan says the principal overreacted.
“The principal said they got to thinking about it. We were trying to avoid a conflict. 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. In our school we don’t do a dress uniform.”
“We probably overreached in this situation, but we make many decisions every day. Sometimes with decisions we make even as parents, we go back and look and think I wish I’d made that decision different. I think that’s the situation here,” said McMillan. “If he could make that decision again, he’d probably say ‘Hey, you know that’s not a big deal,’ but you’re always guarding against how do we not offend anybody.”