Florida's Hope Scholarship Looks to Stop Bullying But Leaves Out Black Students
Why are Black children always targeted for their hair?
Florida's new school voucher program was designed to help students escape bullying in public schools by giving public funds to students to attend private schools.
In theory, this seems like a perfect remedy to the increasing problems bulling has caused in many public schools. However, many of the private schools that will participate in the Hope Scholarship program have racist practices regarding their hair policies. The practices include banning certain hairstyles like dreadlocks, cornrows and other styles associated directly with Black children. Critics say these policies are perpetuating the same acts of bullying the scholarship program is aiming to eliminate.
DiversityInc has reported on the exclusionary practice, as well.
Natural hairstyles aren't new to the Black community. Black children have worn natural hairstyles to school for at least a century.
Many of the schools who are privy to the scholarships are far from inclusive. LGBTQ students face high rates of bullying, but at least 10 percent of schools that have already signed up for the scholarship ban LGBTQ students or have policies objecting to homosexuality. As of mid-August, around 25 percent of schools in the program advertised using ultra-evangelical textbooks that promote racism, sexism and homophobia.
Emily Martin, Vice-President of education and workplace justice at the National Women's Law Center, stated: "Those students are being told that black hair is somehow by its nature anti-education, by its nature distracting, by its nature illegitimate. It's an incredibly disturbing thing to say to black girls and black boys."
Martin also said of the dress codes. "And for girls, with these messages, it's layered on top of messages about gender and sex. You can really see the double whammy of being told in such a personal way that you don't measure up."
A spokeswoman for Florida's Education Department defended the scholarship program, and rejected the suggestion it was anything but inclusive.
"The Florida Department of Education does not condone discrimination of any kind in Florida schools," spokeswoman Audrey Walden wrote in an email. "Using a cursory review of private school handbooks, over which the state has no jurisdiction, to paint a negative picture of the Hope Scholarship Program is both deceptive and irresponsible."
But how can public moneys go to schools with blatantly sexist, homophobic and racist policies?
It's easy when the Florida Department of Education's governor-appointed board is made up of 7 people and all but one is a white male. Ironically, the Chairperson of the board is a black woman.
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For her actions, Wendy Bies spent the night behind bars.
Wendy Bies, a 53-year-old white woman, walked into the Gallatin County Courthouse looking for a ballot; she walked out of the courthouse with a criminal record.
How did this trade happen? She saw Brian Mango waiting in line to vote in the Montana's battleground U.S. Senate and congressional campaigns on Tuesday, and told the 22-year-old, "Go back where you came from."
"Do you know why mom is here? Because Americans bombed her country," Mango said of his mother, a refugee from Laos.
"Do you know why my dad's here? Because they brought his ancestors here in chains," he said of his father, who is Black.
Bies replied with ridicule, "They wanted to come to America to get out of that f*cking a**-hole city. So don't you tell me this is not where you want to be."
Realizing that she may have started something she could not get out of, Bies bellowed, "You are not going to stop me from voting. We need a civil order to separate us."
Mango said Bies began making racial comments after she told him he had a "cute butt."
Footage was captured by Tennison Big Day, a Native American, who was behind the two of them in line. Big Day told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle he heard Bies claim that it was President Trump who gave Mango his voting rights.
Bies spent the rest of election night in Gallatin County jail after being arrested on charges of obstructing a police officer and disorderly conduct. She pleaded not guilty and remained jailed on $500 bail Wednesday afternoon.
See the video:
Election Day arrest at Gallatin County Courthouse youtu.be