I remember growing up and my mom would plait my hair in the traditional Nigerian thread style.
Of course, my fellow white classmates could’t understand why my hair didn’t look like theirs.
It led to teasing which made me feel insecure.
I wish I could have had a teacher like Leigha Bishop.
The pre-kindergarten educator at Lakeview Elementary School in Sugar Land, Texas, had a little girl in her class who also felt insecure about her hair.
One of her students came to class in a topknot bun with cornrows.
Bishop took it upon herself to empower that student by coming to class with the same hairstyle the very next day.
“I told her, ‘Don’t be mad at me when I come to school tomorrow with my hair just like that!’ Of course she didn’t believe me,” she says.
Later that night, Bishop went home and styled her hair in the very same way.
Her aim was to show her student how she inspired her to feel beautiful with that same ‘do.
A tweet with the photo racked up nearly 33,000 retweets and almost 106,000 likes. “I’m so surprised at the reception,” Bishop tells Refinery29.
“I mean, for people to feel this picture was exactly what I was hoping for, but never in a million years would I have thought it had the ability to impact this many people.
“My first grade teacher actually texted me — and she lives in Oakland! I’m very close to a lot of my parents, past and current, so I received a lot of reassuring messages that I’m doing exactly what God called me to do.”
But even better than the viral photo was the reaction from her student. “When I opened the car door to help her out, her face was priceless,” Bishop continues.
“Her jaw dropped and she just stared at me. I told her, ‘You thought I was playing? We are going to be cute together!'”
“I advocate for all children, but Black children do need more positive examples. Black men and women need to know that our young ones are watching every post and every news headline,” she says.
“If young Black girls knew of the never-ending list of Black women who made a difference and are still making a difference, we wouldn’t have so many little Black girls with no one to look up to.’
“It is important for these girls to know that they are important, too. They have a voice that can be heard. They have a story that can be told. They have a heart that can be loved and respected.”