In early February of 2018, Is’Abella “Izzy” Miller and Delanie Seals wore head wraps to school without any ulterior motive. It quickly became an issue with their former Principal Michael Tamaz and would soon become an even larger issue with their new principal Trent Miller. Both principals told Izzy and Delanie that their head wraps were a violation of dress code and “distracting” to other students. Delanie and Izzy attempted to explain the cultural significance of their head wraps and how neither students nor teachers had any issues with their head wraps.
The next several months were the hardest for Delanie and Izzy. They were continuously scrutinized and denied any meetings with their Superintendent Todd Crabtree. When they were finally able to discuss the policy, they were given very little time to present in front of the Board comprised of Superintendent Crabtree, Vice Superintendent Kevin Wilson, and Board member Staci Capps. In an interview with Oklahoma News Four’s Peyton Yager, Crabtree makes it explicitly clear the only reason Delanie and Izzy were denied was because their head wraps were being worn for non-religious/non-medical reasons; making it abundantly clear that he did not take anything they said into consideration.
While Delanie and Izzy continued to fight for their right to express themselves through their cultural headwear, they were willing to sit through detention, as punishment, for wearing head wraps to school. Even while other students broke the dress code policy, one in particular did so by wearing a Confederate themed sweater. This told Izzy and Delanie that wearing overtly racist memorabilia was less offensive than their own culture.
Izzy and Delanie’s hard work paid off on December 9th, 2019, after two years of consistently inquiring meetings with Board members, building a hefty social media following, and gaining news and media traction. Byng high school decided to change the policy and this helped lay the fundamental groundwork for other students to protest policies they deem unfair.
“We went from sitting in the ISD building all day to standing in front of the board members to thank them for changing the rule. It was a surreal moment that really empowered me. Many schools still see head wraps as a thing that’s just a piece of cloth, but it’s something that’s sentimental to us.”
Creating movements that demand change is seldom solo work. Izzy and Delanie were very grateful for the support of their families, friends, social media followers, and news outlets.
“We had to take drastic measures like going on the news and making a petition. Social media really helped us. People from all over the country who didn’t even know us were so willing to assist in any way, and it was amazing.”
We're grateful for and inspired by women like Izzy and Delanie. They persisted and created an inclusive space for the women of color at Byng High School. For more information regarding the histories and stories of women of color fighting for their rights to wear head wraps please visit the links below.
Read more about the history of head wraps here. Also visit here for the inspiring story of a young Muslim woman (also from Oklahoma) who took on the Supreme Court and won her legal right to wear her hijab in the workplace.
About the author
Bianca Cruz, wearing our Pleated Head Wrap in Coco
Bianca Cruz is a Wrap Life model and editorial assistant at Clarkson Potter. She graduated from Hunter College in New York City with a bachelor’s degree in English Language Arts with a minor in German. Following her internship at Oxford University Press, Bianca attended the Columbia Publishing Course and now attends the Institute of Culinary Education where she is currently pursuing her dreams of becoming a Chef.