This week, Chicago parent Tionna Norris shared on Facebook that she got a note from her daughter Amia’s teacher, asking her to stop using as much coconut oil in her daughter’s hair.
“I understand the necessary of coconut oil on Amia’s hair, but please do not use as much. The children were complaining that her hair “stinks.” If you have to apply this daily — please do so lightly, so the kids don’t tease her. Thank you for understanding.”
Tionna's daughter has kinky-curly hair, which needs lots of moisture to be healthy. If hair with that particular texture is not moisturised regularly, it can cause breakage.
The disgruntled mum posted an image of the letter side-by-side with a snap of her daughter’s (admittedly fresh-looking) hairstyle, which included a side braid and a crown of seriously gorgeous curls.
And her caption for the photo confirmed that she had no intention of taking the teacher’s advice. “*Applies the same amount of coconut oil* y’all gone feel that black girl magic. Sincerely, unapologetically black mom. P.s. Coconut oil has no stinky smell. (sic)”
Tionna says her child is the only black student her class at the Raggedy Anne Learning Center, which adds another layer to the issue.
“This is why I make it a point to keep her hair natural and tell her yes she’s different and it’s magical,” she wrote on Facebook.
The photo, which has been shared more than 3,000 times on Facebook, has a few people wondering why Tionna and her daughter should make any changes to what they’re doing, when the teacher should instead be telling kids not to bully others.
“Why is the ill manner of another child your responsibility? It’s absurd,” one commenter said. “I hope the teacher wrote the other kids parents about being bullies since she’s so damn concerned,” another echoed.
Others pointed out the fact that coconut oil in general doesn’t have that strong a scent.
Tionna wrote that she and her fiancé went for a sit-down with the school’s director to talk about the issue.
They apparently learned that her daughter wasn’t getting bullied for her hair in the first place.
“In the conversation she explained the letter was never supposed to be offensive in any way shape or form, no one ever said anything to my daughter, and Amia’s teacher is just a complainer (she’s Russian). We had an adult conversation, and my daughter has many friends, so no I will not be removing her from the school. The teacher is also being disciplined,” she wrote in an update to Facebook.
On Wednesday, Tionna posted again, reflecting on how the situation made her feel, saying that she isn’t of the opinion that the teacher meant no harm from the letter, considering she was the only one who had a problem with the child’s hair.
“It was just something the teacher was not used to and thought it was heavy,” she wrote.
“Do I still believe the teacher didn’t have ill intentions? Not for a second because the way she tried to talk to me about how she thought my daughter smelled (… she is the only person who felt that way) was absolutely and totally unacceptable, but Amia is deftly my child, her clap back will always be REAL!”
Tionna did not respond to a request for a comment as of press time. We called the Raggedy Ann Learning Center and were told, simply, “No comment.”