A 14-year-old girl named Chenise Benson showed up to her middle school in England with a hairstyle her father says was inspired by Beyoncé. She was promptly sent home for violating school policy.

According to the Daily Mail, the policy states: "Please note we do not allow extreme, unnatural hairstyles or colouring. Any hair accessories should be of a practical nature and should not be decorative."

Here's what Chenise's braids looked like:


The story's fraught with tension between cultural appropriation—a white girl trying to imitate a cool hairstyle on Beyoncé, a black artist—and a student's right to freedom of expression. Naturally, it's a sensitive topic that's only inflamed by comments Benson's father, Darren Benson, has made in the British media.

"I'm not racist in any shape or form," he said. "But this is like racism against their own. Chenise is being picked out here because she's white—if she was black or mixed-race they wouldn't have a problem." Benson seems to be forgetting that there are many, many examples of school's policing the hairstyles of children of color.


He wasn't done. "In this country we're so bothered about upsetting other people that we're upsetting our own," Benson continued, appearing to make the claim that England has one racial group of its "own" and one comprised of "other people."

Further complicating the issue is Darren Benson's assertion that his daughter's friend, "whose dad is Jamaican," told teachers that her hair was similar and she was "still allowed" to attend the school. Another unsavory quote from Benson reads: "My youngest daughter Chenise is quite dark and tanned anyway—so it doesn't look too bad."


The school's currently on its half-term break, but Metro reports the school's statement through a spokesman:

It is the first time I have heard about the matter and obviously, with it being half-term, there is no way I can get the full background details about the matter.

Meanwhile, Benson says his daughter's hair "cost £140 and will stay in her hair for a year so it won’t be coming out."