Denise eagerly waited for her daughter to come home. Being away a couple of days was normal but it was still hard.
There would be excited updates and lots of hugs. She saw the doorknob turn and her little girl walk in … bald. Where beautiful curls once sprouted, was not a shaved scalp. “What happened?!”
The relationship between Denise Robinson, a mother from Massachusetts, and her 7-year-old daughter, Tru, had always been a special one.
But it also had its challenges. She remembered the day when she was officially told there were “serious problems.” This is when Little Heroes Group came into the picture.
At first, it was perfect. She remembered the first time she walked in – how the school felt more like a home and the limited slots made sure every child got the attention they needed.
This was especially important because all of the children there had one thing in common. One thing that needed very special care…
It was a place where kids with social, emotional, mental health, or severe trauma issues could learn and grow in a safe environment.
It was that one word that Denise trusted … safe. It never had occurred to her that they would make such a horrible decision with her daughter. She reached for the phone with angry, shaking hands.
New images piled onto her already frantic mind. You see, part of the program involved children regularly spending the night.
What else had happened when she wasn’t there to protect her daughter? “What did you do to my child?!” she yelled into the phone as Tru sat there, rubbing her bald head.
It was a confused scramble on the other end. The first person had no idea what was going on, so they handed it off to the next person … and so on.
If someone didn’t give her answers soon, she would drive there herself and made them. “Hello? Ms. Robinson?” It was finally a familiar voice.
“What happened to my daughter’s head?!” The coordinator answered, “We had a salon visit this week.”
A salon visit? She held back the brunt of her anger. Was it gum in the hair? The coordinator continued, “We had to do it for hygienic reasons.” Denise had to sit down in a chair. “What does that mean?”
She took very good care of her daughter’s beautiful long hair.
The day she had left for the program it was squeaky-clean and put up in two pigtails. There was no dirt or knots and tangles. What were they even talking about? Her gut told her they were lying.
It was a long, intense conversation with several people and plenty of money in the swear jar.
But the disturbing truth finally came out. As Tru was sitting in the salon chair, the volunteer in charge of the hair cut looked at the spirals and said something Denise (and the world) would never forget.
“If you shave all your hair off, it will grow back straight.”
Anyone who has experienced an intense level of shock and anger knows the feeling – like your muscles want to leap out of your body and your throat wants to breathe fire. It also turns out Tru was the only one targeted.
The program had a mix of white and black students. Tru was the only biracial kid there.
No one else had their head shaved to produce a different kind of growth. On top of it all … they had never, at any point, asked HER permission to cut a single strand. So, the mom took to social media.
“Tru was assaulted yesterday at school!” she wrote on Twitter.
“And anyone who knows me knows I never claim racism.” She added, “She did not and I repeat have head lice or bugs!” It was with the hashtag #whytru that the pressure came down on the program. Their response, however, didn’t help.
At first, they stuck to the idea that they had the power to make choices on children’s hair, etc. when it came to cleanliness.
But when there was no evidence to support this, they backtracked. “We were right” turned into “we will look into it.” When asked for the responsible parties, there answer was this…
Protect your own. It was a legal response of “under law, not being allowed to reveal people in the program.”
Denise wasn’t going to let it end there. She stayed on her twitter campaign … hard. She also hired a lawyer to explore her options. The entire situation is disturbing for another reason.
It doesn’t matter the state of mind, going to the hairdresser (for many children) can be scary.
The school’s main creed is to keep children away from such things. As of now, there is no answer on the outcome, but Denise and Tru had plenty of support from those around them.