Is Denying Dreadlocs In Elementary School An Example of Implicit Bias?

Implicit BiasBy Lawrence A Robinson
So, a Black parent registers his child in a highly rated private school and dresses him up with a shirt and tie for first grade. When he gets to the school's office, he is told that his child can't attend this school wearing dreadlocs. He was told that it's policy.

 Was this an instance of 'culture shock' experienced by the father? The school's student population is over 95% black. However, ownership of the school is not Black. With that high of a percentage of Black students, the average person would think that the culture of the school would be more akin to a Black orientation, right?

The parent may have experience something other than culture shock. Maybe the owner of the school will accept other folk money, but not their culture, not dreadlocs. Maybe what the parent experienced was an example of 'implicit bias.'

An implicit bias, or implicit stereotype, is the unconscious attribution of particular qualities to a member of a certain social group. Implicit stereotypes are influenced by experience, and are based on learned associations between various qualities and social categories, including race or gender.

In other words, the student was being taught that 'dreadlocs' is not an acceptable hair style. If the owner had not been challenged, the child would probably grow up with a certain disdain for his hair culture and not know why.

Implicit bias has crippled Black people beyond imagination. We have been taught that the 'water' is cooler and sweeter across the tracks. It has been indicated to us that 'we' can't be trusted in business matters. We are learning to hate our church which is our biggest institution where most of us get our strength. By means of implicit bias, we are now being told that Blacks were never slaves but rather unpaid apprentices. Accepting and treating these biases as real, will keep us from soaring to our true attainable heights.

Some biases have been so successfully implemented within our culture, that we fight to keep them. Most of us are unaware that we are being hoodwinked and bamboozled. We get a hair cut at the Korean barber shop and will trust the preaching of a non-Black pastor while sitting among friends in the all Black congregation.

Malcolm X said, "Only a fool would let his enemy educate his children."

Why then, are we trying to force the school owner that hates our culture, to accept our child who loves and respects his heritage? Does this make any sense?

If 30% of our children would leave non-Black schools, and come back home to ours, we would need more schools. This would build our community while we educate our own children. There would be Black educators and administrators pouring respect for our heritage into our future, every day, without implicit bias. Maybe this is what we should be fighting for, instead of sitting in their classroom learning to hate ourselves.