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Black Baltimore HS students protest school dress code, say it’s ‘forced assimilation’

Some Baltimore City College students are protesting the school’s dress code as they claim it is “forced assimilation” which, as the protest’s “MindWrap Monday” points out, “ignores the rich culture and history of black hair.”

The high school is one of Baltimore City Public Schools’ most selective institutions.

The student group “City Bloc” sent a letter to the school administration outlining its reasons for breaking the dress code this week, and instead will “[wear] clothing that has historical, cultural or political significance.”

One of the reasons is “to start a dialogue” about racial and social justice issues.

Another goal, a student said, is to “‘[deconstruct] respectability politics’ that expect young black men and women to ‘perform our blackness in specific ways’ that are deemed acceptable by authority figures.”

The Baltimore Sun reports:

The group wrote in a public letter to the school’s administration that “little has been done to answer the calls of students,” and some feel ignored both in school and in society at large.

The students said they met with Principal Cindy Harcum on Friday, and she told them she saw “no issue” with their plans, but the group also tweeted that it could not “guarantee there will be no consequences” for students who break with the school’s dress code of khaki pants and button-down City College shirt.

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Early Monday morning, the school tweeted, “Students must wear regular uniform attire today. Appropriate, traditional cultural head wrap has also been approved.” A similar message was emailed to students late Sunday.

The theme of the first day of protest was “MindWrap Monday” and students were urged to wear colorful head wraps and scarves. The students say the scarves and wraps reflect their cultural roots and were illegitimately banned at the beginning of the school year for anyone who is not a practicing Muslim.

Also on tap this week is “Women Work Wednesday” where each class will begin with a discussion of important women in history and in students’ lives. City Bloc says the school’s curriculum is insufficient “to cover women who have … been monumental in society and in social justice movements.”

“Thoughtful Thursday” will feature City Bloc requesting “allies” to “stop dominating the conversation and actively listen to the issues being faced by minorities today.”

Principal Harcum did not offer a comment to The Sun. So far, it appears City Bloc’s dress code protest will be confined to this week.

Read the full article.

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