A Denver mother and a cheerleading coach are at the center of a dispute after the mom alleges her daughter was kicked off of the cheerleading squad because of her natural hair.
In September, Tiyana Young said Coach Stephanie Trujillo of Diamond Elite All Star Cheerleading initially agreed to allow her daughter Niemah to wear her hair in a slicked back ponytail. But this changed at the start of the cheer season, Young told CBS Denver.
She said the coach told her: ‘We’ve changed the hair. We need her to buy the hair piece so we need $20 A.S.A.P.’ The hair piece in question is one that the squad required last year and Niemah attaches to the top of her ponytail.
The issue is that the hair piece reportedly causes Niemah to feel lightheaded as her hair is pulled back together in the ponytail extra tightly to keep the smooth, uniform appearance requested of the cheerleaders. But last season, Tiyana said Trujillo told her the girl didn’t have to wear the head pieces any longer.
That initial promise changed this season prompting Young to refuse to buy her daughter the hair piece as a result. She saw it as the coach going back on her promise.
But when Trujillo called her daughter out after practice for not wearing the head piece, Young said she got heated.
Young claims Trujillo made an example out of her daughter for refusing to wear the head piece. “The coach … asks the team ‘how do you feel that this little African American girl gets to wear her natural hair?’” Young told CBS.
Young said she asked to meet with Trujillo but the coach sent home a letter stating that Niemah was no longer on the team.
Trujillo told CBS Denver that the girl was kicked off of the team after her mother made threatening comments on social media toward her. Young and Trujillo, on different occasions, provided reporters with a screen shot of those comments where Young told Trujillo she had “crossed the wrong mother” and she wants to “make an example” out of her. In the messages, Young tells Trujillo that she could lose her cheerleading license alleging she is not medically cleared to coach.
Tiyana says the comments were taken out of context and are a scapegoat for the real issue — the head piece to cover her daughter’s natural hair.
“I’ve worked hard to not become that person that unfortunately Black women and Black men are portrayed to be: violent,” Young said.
The whole incident has caused Niemah to no longer feel welcomed on the cheer team. Young said her concern is how this will impact her daughter’s self-esteem and thinks Trujillo owes her daughter an apology.
“Whether they are White, Black, Asian, curly hair, straight hair, no hair, I think all girls should feel supported,” said Young.