A black elementary school girl in Mississippi was reprimanded by her principal after she was forced to take off a shirt with a harmless message on it that apparently offended her school administrator.
Eight-year-old Makiyah-Jae Jolly (pictured above), a student at Popp’s Ferry Elementary school in Biloxi showed up last week to school with a gray shirt on with black letters on the front of it that read “Black Girls Rock.” However, she didn’t expect her innocent, fashionable show of ethnic and female self-esteem to get her in hot water.
She later returned home to her mother, Sharika Jolly, with a different shirt on that day. This prompted Makiyah-Jae’s mother to contact the school principal about what went wrong. “Before she wanted her hair straightened and colored blonde,” Sharika Jolly told The Grio. “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,” she continued.
When Makiyah-Jae’s mother contacted the principal at Popp’s Ferry, she got an explanation of events that fell short of an apology. “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,’” Jolly said. “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,”‘ she continued.
The principal’s refusal to apologize caused Jolly to take her complaint against the school a step further. She then contacted a school board administrator to report the incident. After taking this final action, the school finally called Ms. Jolly to issue an apology over the incident.
Arthur McMillan, the superintendent of Biloxi schools agreed that the principal at Popp’s Ferry made a poor choice by forcing Makiyah-Jae to take off the shirt. “The principal said they got to thinking about it. We were trying to avoid a conflict,” said McMillan in a statement. “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,” he continued.
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