A story about a middle school-age Black boy’s braided hairstyle has elicited outrage from his parents and people online. Dalon Thorn is at the center of the controversy that first became a headline on Thursday (May 25) but has since become a hot topic on social media.
The seventh grader’s parents told NOLA.com they were stunned to learn that his hair has come under question by Calvary Baptist School’s principal, Angelyn Mesman. “I picked him up, just like normal, and asked, ‘How was your day? How did your friends like your braids?” Ashely Thorn, Dalon’s mother, told the news outlet. “We’re driving out of the parking lot, and he said the principal pulled him aside today and asked if his braids represented being a gangster.”
Ashely and her husband immediately reached out to the private school’s administrator that afternoon. The following day, they had an in-person meeting to discuss the issue of Dalon’s hair and Mesman’s perceived perception of the hairstyle. “You don’t think you have to prep your child or even think of something like that for something that’s so small,” said the boy’s mother.
In an alleged audio recording of their conversation, Mesman told Dalon’s parents, “I’ve never had a student wear their braids like that. I’ve had teachers personally come to me and ask about his hair and what I thought about it.”
Mesman continued, “I have seen children grow up in this school, and I’ve seen them change, so I was just checking to see where we are. I just wanted to see his heart. Our culture is changing. Little boys used to have regular little haircuts… I’m seeing a lot of young people listening to a lot of rappers pushing for drugs and doing things opposite of Christ.” Ashely, however, said that her son’s hairstyle does not violate school policy, which limits afros and locs to three inches but does not have guidelines for braids.
Dalon has only been at the school for the 2022–2023 academic year. After this experience, his parents say they plan to remove him from the tuition-based school that educates students through the eighth grade. Some of the reactions from people online include:
“The policing of Black children is what keeps them from being children. From having moments of innocent joy as a child, such as wearing braids. All because someone else is uncomfortable by their presence.”
“That principle needs to be fired. None of their business, and if he/she did feel the need to ask, better ask [the] parents. Schools are overstepping.”
“In the year 2023, for a Black boy on the planet Earth in America in Nola, an area with a large concentration of Black people…braids represent being a ‘gangsta’? This can’t be serious.”
Last summer, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed the CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act into law. The bill prohibits hair discrimination in the workplace and at schools.