Wear those braids with pride

I attended high school in Texas, and I frequently wore braids with extensions. When I competed in the “Jeopardy!” teen tournament, I wore a weave on national television. At Princeton, I wore braids until the day I graduated. Had I been penalized the way the Cook twins have been at Mystic Valley Regional Charter School (“ACLU weighs in on school hair rule,” Metro, May 16), I would not be telling this story. Instead, the belief that my hair was a demerit would have clouded my self-worth and kept me from ever trying for anything.

Every black woman I love and respect — my sister, my cousins, my friends — has worn hair extensions. Not once have those extensions hampered their success. These women remain some of the smartest, kindest, most beautiful people I know. I am humbled to be in their company.

By all appearances, Deanna and Mya Cook are talented, intelligent students. The Malden charter school would have them believe, falsely, that none of their successes matters as much as their hair. This is both sexist and racist.


Deanna, Mya: Please do not let this episode dim your accomplishments. Know that so many of us stand proudly with you. Keep shining.

Linda Alila