A teenager in Baytown, Texas, believes she has become the victim of racial discrimination by her cheerleading coach.
15-year-old Kemirah Jn-Marie is a flyer on the varsity cheerleading squad at Ross S. Sterling High School. Last week, before a large football game on Saturday, Kemirah was shocked when her coach told her that she would not be able to perform with the squad because of her hair.
Kemirah has had braids in her hair since the beginning of the school year. As the only Black girl on the squad, Kemirah admitted to getting special braids in order to meet the hair requirements for the squad.
Sterling High cheer guidelines state that “hair must be pulled back in a secure pony tail and must not distract from the cheer environment.”
However, the guidelines in no way prohibit braids, and Kemirah is not going to allow this discrimination to take place. According to Kemirah, other girls are given more leeway in hairstyles.
"I feel like [the coach] singles me out," said Kemirah.
After hearing about Kemirah’s discrimination concern, Beth Dombrowa, a spokesperson for Goose Creek Consolidated Independent School District, issued a statement on the matter.
"This student is not the only cheerleader who has been asked to correct her hairstyle, or other parts of her uniform; further, she was in no way reprimanded, punished or kept from participating – she was simply reminded to use the agreed-upon hairstyle. In no way do we discriminate, or tolerate, discrimination of any student,” read the statement.
As for the football game, Kemirah attended the game with her braids and was able to cheer with the rest of her squad.