Gyasi Ross: Struggle continues as Navajo boy sent home over hair

Malachi Wilson before his first day of school. Photo from Facebook

Gyasi Ross says history repeats itself as Native boy is sent home from school for having long hair:
A couple of the United States' tactics, as a matter of historical record, to break the spirit of Native children and to separate them from their home communities was -- through threats of force or through actual force -- to take those Native kids from their homes and cut their long hair. That continues today. Fortunately, there are many people -- Native and non-Native allies alike -- who are dedicated to ending the proliferation of Native kids being taken from their homes through foster kids. Thank God for that.

Kill the Indian... save the man.

The other way that the government historically tried to strip the "Indian-ness" from Indians was by forcefully cutting the hair. The hair represented the untamed nature, the comfort that Native people felt in nature, immersion in a hunter/gatherer worldview and economy. It represented a holistically anti-capitalistic perspective on life -- not needing to fit in to get a job, not fighting against nature to be "presentable." Once again, as a matter of historical record the government didn't think that anti-capitalistic worldview was productive, and set out to change Native people's worldview through force. That "force" included literally killing almost all of Native peoples' traditional food sources, trying to turn them into farmers and making them dependent upon capitalistic economic mechanisms. Markets. Rations.

Kill the Indian.

This stuff is still happening today. I'm not gonna get too deep into the politics of it, but just last week a 5-year-old Native kid named Malachi Wilson got sent home because his hair was too long. The Seminole Independent School District of Texas (of course, it had to be a school district named after a group of Native people famous for non-conformity -- the Seminoles) made young Malachi go home for the day as a violation of the dress code. Ultimately, the school relented and let Malachi return, but the principle that a young kid could be denied his right to education -- in 2014 -- because of his hair... well, it seems anachronistic. A throwback. But in a bad way. Like "three black cops in a town that is almost 70 percent black bad way."

Get the Story:
Gyasi Ross: For Natives in 2014, the Struggle Continues (The Huffington Post 9/2)

Related Stories:
Five-year-old Navajo boy sent home from school for his long hair (8/28)

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