Denied kindergarten for being Native?

by Guest Contributor Jessica Yee, originally published at The Shameless Blog

This story actually made me cry.

Five year old Adriel Arocha is being blocked from attending school in a Houston-area school district.

The reason?

As an Apache, he has long hair that he has been growing in his Native cultural tradition that “violates” this school’s dress code rules.

The kicker though is that the school board is willing to make exceptions on religious or other “proven” moral grounds, but doesn’t think that being Native American cuts it.

Even after Adriel’s father Kenny submitted a DNA sample of his blood and explained the long history of why many of us do not cut our hair until a family member dies, he received this response from superintendent Curtis Rhodes:

“To make exceptions, you have to be provided evidence of something, and to this point, I don’t feel I’ve been provided evidence to make an exception.”

Oh really now? Well, what would they have us do so this child can attend school, show them a biblical text that says God told Native people to have long hair? Growing out your hair is a tradition in many Indigenous cultures that has been going on for centuries, long before our education was institutionalized. Long hair carries our life experiences and reminds us about the teachings we’ve received along the way.

So even when you take away our land, ignore our human rights, and try to destroy our culture, it’s still not good enough to go to your schools?

And people wonder why it’s so hard for us to keep our identity strong.