Don’t touch my hair
When it’s the feelings I wear
For three days during the week of September 17, 2017, 14-year-old Genesee Taylor, then a freshman at Brentsville District High School in Nokesville, Virginia (she and her brother have since transferred to a more culturally diverse performing arts high school), was bullied for her natural hair. In what could possibly amount to battery, her offending classmates thought it would be hilarious to throw pencils in her ponytail puff — and post a video of themselves doing so on Snapchat with the caption, “Yay School!!”
“I didn’t do anything when it first happened because it came out of nowhere and took me by surprise,” Genesee said of the incident. “I never wanted it to happen on any day. I wanted them to stop. I asked the student to stop on Wednesday, and it continued on Friday.”
And despite the fact that it all went down right in the middle of her Social Studies classroom, no one did anything to stand up for her, and for some reason, the teacher didn’t notice, either. In the video, shared on Facebook by Genesee’s mom, you can clearly see that at least three girls were in on the harassment — one did the pencil throwing, another girl in the frame joined in the laughter, and a third girl did the filming.
“I didn’t realize it was me at first [in the video],” Genesee said. “It wasn’t until I recognized the main student in the video that it dawned on me. I was shocked because my brother showed it to me and I did not realize the student behind me had filmed the act.”
While Genesee’s brother was showing her the video, their mom, Darlene, happened to walk in the room, too, and was legit disturbed by what she saw. So, she did what any parent would do — she fired off an e-mail to the principal requesting a conference.
The response? Nothing, at first.
“They never gave me a time and date for a conference as requested in my initial e-mail,” Darlene said. “It wasn’t until after I posted the incident on Facebook and my husband requested a conference again that the principal said we could set up one with the assistant principal.” Genesee’s parents passed on that, though, opting to meet with administrators who were above the principal.
Unfortunately, that still didn’t seem to set any kind of punishment in motion.
Unless you count getting their seats changed in class. According to Genesee, that’s the only thing she’s seen happen. They were right back in school the following Monday. (Privilege is a powerful thing, isn’t it?)
“[The school] continues to tell us that the method of discipline cannot be released to us,” Darlene said. “We don’t believe any disciplinary action was ever taken towards the students involved.” The family is working with an investigator and is expecting to receive more information on October 27. Based on what they receive, the Taylors will decide whether or not to pursue any legal action.
Genesee said the pencil thrower has apologized, but the girl behind the camera has not. They did, however, stop harassing her once their seats were moved.
Black hair has been under attack on the regular since basically forever, and this is yet another example of yet another school seemingly trying to act like such conduct is NBD. But it most certainly is. And we can’t help but wonder, if the roles were reversed…
Photos courtesy of Darlene Taylor