Recently 8-year-old Marian Scott showed up for picture day at Paragon Charter Academy with her hair neatly braided with streaks of red. I’m sure she and her family carefully decided how she would be groomed and dressed for that special day. From the photos I saw of Marian on picture day she looked positively lovely. Unfortunately, her school has a strict dress code which requires that hair be in its natural tone, in a conservative style and not be “extreme.” You have got to be kidding me. You have a beautiful little girl who no doubt was confused as to why she was singled out and not allowed to have her school picture taken along with the other students. Marian has probably seen others in her family and in her social circle wear such styles and admired the style. After all, it is from those we positively interact with most frequently that we get our cues on beauty.
As upsetting and confusing as this probably was for 8-year-old Marian, subsequent news accounts showed her family, their resolve and their response. I have every belief that Marian will be fine, and the policy will be reviewed and hopefully changed to allow Marian to be photographed in the future in a style (should she so choose) which is expressive of her culture and identity.
As I read more about the incident with Marian, I still wished the adults in charge had put their thinking caps on and found a better solution. Later when I heard of a new development I was elated. Several news outlets reported that a hero from our community came rushing in: Chicago Professional photographer Jermaine Horton of Jermaine Horton Photography drove four hours from Chicago to Michigan to do a photo shoot of Marian. Mr. Horton is a father and was also bothered by what Marian endured. His photos of Marian are breathtaking. Marian is absolutely radiant in every frame.
After hearing about Mr. Horton’s intervention, I felt better, until Gabrielle Union’s firing and reports that one reason cited as a basis for her termination was that her hairstyles were seen as “too black.” Are we in some type of alternative universe?! Ms. Union was fired not because she couldn’t competently perform her duties as a judge on America’s Got Talent. She was allegedly fired because she complained about Simon Cowell’s (AGT fellow judge and executive producer) smoking, a racist joke made by Jay Leno and because she shared concerns (internally I might add) about a minority contestant not being treated fairly and not allowed to continue while another majority group was seen as someone “America could get behind.” Ms. Union saw these injustices and spoke up.
Ms. Union’s situation is quite baffling. That’s PC talk. It’s not baffling. Gabrielle refused to see wrongs and not confront it. Don’t know how long it’s going to take for her to learn her place. She was raped and not only wouldn’t hide, she wrote in gory detail about it and keeps speaking about it so other women will absolutely know, she did nothing wrong to cause the rape and neither did they. Gabrielle did not take on the posture of being victimized a second time by being quiet about this horrific event as if she somehow, not only did something to cause it, but also that she is permanently soiled as a result of it. That is a boss move right there from a proven boss lady.
News accounts report that Gabrielle is allergic to cigarette smoke and also that smoking is not legally allowed indoors where the show takes place. Making statements against a minority group which perpetuates falsehoods relative to their identity are racist and should not be condoned. With the tinder box we all now find ourselves in here in America, this is even more true. (Please watch your words lest you spark that ever-present flame. Yes, watch your words even when you are in what you believe to be your little trusted circle making statements with a slight wink and a chuckle.)
SAG-AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists) and NBC came riding in and have both initiated an investigation. I am hoping that, like Mr. Horton, SAG-AFTRA and NBC through investigation of Ms. Union’s firing, will be the hero(s) we all need in this ugly, but still too common, saga.