A Black cheerleader attending Ottawa University says her coach kicked her off the squad following a racist rant about her hair.
As reported by the Kansas City Star, Talyn Jefferson decided not to remove her bonnet during practice because she didn’t want to hit her teammates with her long braids. After refusing to remove her bonnet, the 20-year-old says the cheer coach launched into a tirade about her hair before kicking Jefferson out of practice and removing her from the squad.
“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,” Jefferson told the Star.
She later told a friend about the Jan. 6 incident, who brought attention to it on Twitter. Jefferson texted her friend, "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."
In response, officials from the school released a statement claiming Jefferson’s removal “had absolutely nothing to do with her hairstyle.”
“No student has ever been sanctioned or expelled for wearing box braids, bonnets, or any other hairstyle,” the statement read.
“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,” Jefferson said of the university's response. “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.”
This is yet another example of Black students being targeted by schools because of their hair. Since the incident, Jefferson has withdrawn from school and is planning to enroll elsewhere. A spokesperson for the university said the incident is being investigated.