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Viral Teacher’s Note Complaining That Child’s Hair ‘Stinks’ of Coconut Oil Draws Backlash

Tionna Norris and daughter Amia
Tionna Norris and daughter Amia (Tionna Norris Facebook)

A teacher’s note shared by a Black Illinois mother drew outrage Monday after the instructor complained the student’s hair “stinks.”

Tionna Norris is the mother of 3-year-old Amia, who attends Raggedy Anne Learning Center. In the note sent by a Russian teacher named Carol, she claimed Amia’s classmates complained of a strong scent of coconut oil in her hair.

“I understand the necessary [sic] of coconut oil on Amia’s hair,” Carol’s note read. “But please do not use as much. The children were complaining that her hair “stinks.” If you have to apply this daily — please do so lightly, so the kids don’t tease her. Thank you for understanding.”

Since Norris posted the message and a photo of Amia’s hairstyle that day (Oct. 10), it racked up 4,900 shares.

“Y’all gone feel that Black girl magic,” the mother wrote after vowing to apply the same amount of oil as usual. “Sincerely, unapologetically Black mom. P.s. Coconut oil has no stinky smell.”

Hundreds of comments poured out onto the post.

Carrisma Blyden acknowledged the concern over possible bullying but put the responsibility of stopping it on the teacher, not the parent.


Nicole Lee thought Carol should teach the other students to be respectful of Amia.


And Monique VanFelder hoped Norris had an in-person meeting with the teacher over the matter.


Norris initially responded to the teacher with a handwritten note, explaining she did not use coconut oil on her daughter’s hair for the wash-and-go look.

However, Amia’s mother ultimately met with the school director and learned no bullying ever occurred. Instead, Carol “was not used to” the scent of coconut oil “and thought it was heavy.”

“They have fully taken responsibility and understand why it’s so offensive,” Norris wrote on Facebook Oct. 12. “They also would like to apologize to anyone the letter may have offended. Amia is happy and reassured me no one ever bullied her. We now have an understanding where if anything is an issue I will be notified in person and not through a letter which is up for assumption. Do I still believe the teacher didn’t have ill intentions? Not for a second. Because the way she tried to talk to me about how she thought my daughter smelled… was absolutely and totally unacceptable.”

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