School apologizes after making child take off her “Black Girls Rock” shirt

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A moment of self-confidence and black pride landed one little girl in the principal’s office.

Sharika Jolly says her daughter Makiyah-Jae struggled with self-esteem due to her appearance, and in an attempt to empower the child, she bought her a t-shirt that says, “Black Girls Rock.”

“Before she wanted her hair straightened and colored blonde,” said Jolly. “I’m like ‘No, baby. That’s not you. This is who you are. You don’t have to be like anyone else but yourself.’ And I feel like she should be comfortable in her own skin.”

However, last week, when Makiyah-Jae wore the shirt to Popps Ferry Elementary, she returned home wearing something different. Alarmed, Jolly contacted the principal, who admitted her child had been made to take her original shirt off.

Black Girls Rock is a nonprofit organization that promotes self-esteem, empowerment and mentoring amongst black women. Nothing about their messaging is in violation of any school bylaws.

“When I asked him what was the reason for him taking the shirt off of her, he said, ‘You’re right. It’s not in the policy. Nowhere in the policy does it state that the shirt is out of dress code,'” said Jolly. “He said they made a judgment call, then I proceeded to ask well who are the judges judging my eight year old. And he said ‘Well, I’m the principal so I made the call.'”

After Jolly notified an administrator for the school district, on Thursday, the school called to apologize.

“It took two days but he did apologize,” the concerned mother pointed out. “I accepted the apology, but my concern is how many other kids have been discriminated against at that school and their parents have not spoken up.”

Biloxi Schools Superintendent Arthur McMillan concedes that the school overreacted.

“The principal said they got to thinking about it. We were trying to avoid a conflict,” said McMillan. “In today’s world we think about all the politically correct things that we don’t want to offend anybody; probably overreached in this situation.”

The school says the little girl is now free to wear her “Black Girls Rock” shirt to school — without reprimand.