Kansas cheerleader says she was removed from team after wearing bonnet, braids to practice

Talynn Jefferson said she was kicked off the cheerleading squad after the coach allegedly went on a racist rant about her hairstyle.

A Black cheerleader at Ottawa University claims she was kicked off the squad after her coach went on a racist rant about her braids during practice.

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Talynn Jefferson shared the experience that resulted in her being removed. According to The Kansas City Star, the incident occurred on Jan. 6. She told the outlet she entered practice wearing a bonnet to cover her braids out of fear that they would hit a teammate.

Her coach, Casey Jamerson, instructed her to remove the silk covering. After sharing her reasoning for asking, the coach allegedly went on a rant filled with microaggressions, racism, and finally explicit language, before Jefferson was kicked out of the practice session.

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Image via Instagram @Ottawacheeranddance

“You shouldn’t have gotten seven-foot-long hair then!’ Jefferson claimed her coach said. “She proceeds to tell me that my box braids are a hindrance to my performance and they are not collegiate and I never should have gotten them in the first place.”

She also expressed how Jamerson, a white woman, allegedly said she understands Black hair. “I do Black people’s hair,” the tweet that shared the encounter quoted the coach saying, according to the Star. “I’m a cosmetologist! I lived with a Black girl for five years. I do understand what it’s like to have hair like that.”

The 20-year-old was first removed from practice but eventually kicked off the team.

“I got kicked off because I was standing up for myself against microaggressive comments that the coach made toward me, that made me and others very uncomfortable,” said Jefferson, according to the news outlet. “Instead of the university addressing the fact that the comments were out of line and made me uncomfortable and the coach should have apologized, their solution was to kick me off instead.”

Ottawa University has issued its own statement about Jefferson’s removal from the cheerleading squad. In a memo shared on Twitter, the university claimed her hairstyle had nothing to do with her removal from the team or the school.

“Though student privacy and confidentiality prohibit the university from divulging protective information, we can confirm that the student was not expelled from Ottawa University. Further, no student has ever been sanctioned or expelled for wearing box braids, bonnets, or any other hairstyle. We can also confirm that the student’s removal from the team had nothing to do with her hairstyle or any related matter.”

The statement continued, “Ottawa University recognizes that incidents of this nature can inflame passions, which can potentially lead to erroneous things being said or written, however, the targeting personal attacks and false and misleading information currently being circulated on social media are unfortunate.”

According to the Star, Jefferson confirmed she is no longer enrolled at the university due to financial reasons, however, is adamant her removal from the squad was based on the issue with the coach and her braids.

“They claim I got kicked off because I defy authority and I have anger issues, but like I’ve said, that is not true. I have no type of misconduct issues at that school,” she said. She also went on Twitter and expressed her only goal was fairness.

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According to the Ottawa University Athletics website, this is Jamerson’s first calendar year as head coach of the competitive cheerleading squad. She was hired in August 2020 by Ottawa University Director of Cheer, Dance & STUNT, Shayla Siebenthall.

She has 26 years of experience in competitive cheerleading and has coached at the high school level before joining the collegiate cheer coaching staff. Jamerson was an original cast member of Bring it On: The Musical in New York City.

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