The Blue Hair And The Crucible

Interesting story I caught just now about a substitute teacher who, after a week of teaching, apparently isn’t welcome anymore. The reason? Well if you ask the school district, it’s her blue hair. If you ask the teacher, Jennifer Harmon, it was religion.

“Blue hair” probably makes you think either punk or old lady. As the picture above shows, Harmon is neither. She also isn’t new to the blue hair, but rather has had it for almost 2 years now along with a nose piercing, both of which she had when she applied to be a substitute teacher. Another thing she isn’t is a witch, or wiccan, yet it may well be that someone either fears she is or is preying on such fears to get rid of her.

Coincidentally, the same day another sub asked her if she was wiccan, the principal later called her in to inform her that her appearance was a problem. She was also asked about religion, specifically, what hers was and whether she had been talking to the kids about religion.
“Not only was I extremely confused and upset because I was never made aware of any policy prohibiting teachers from having blue hair and nose piercings, but when (the principal) asked me about religion I started to panic,” said Harmon, who said she is not Wiccan and does not subscribe to any particular religious faith. “Of course, I never spoke to the children about religion. I would never do such a thing.”

Now what I immediately start thinking of is The Crucible, and who might our Abigail be? Hell, maybe it was this other substitute teacher. You know it is difficult to get a teaching job at a good school, and substitute jobs are also tough to get. Our Abigail may well have been trying to submarine what she saw as competition. Even so, how frightening is it that someone in 21st century America could make people turn against someone by making them suspect that someone is a witch? Now maybe our Abigail is a stuffy parent put off by the blue hair and nose piercing and is playing on people’s fears with the witch crap and the suggestions Harmon may be like Tituba, speaking to the kids of sorcery, the devil and dancing around a fire in the woods, or maybe someone saw her, was so grossly ignorant to assume such an appearance equals witch, and started fanning the flames of fear. Who knows, but it all smells fishy to me and by fishy I mean Jesus fish on the car fishy.

Thankfully, not everyone there is an ignorant puritan and friends, parents and teachers are supporting Harmon. Still, as I said, it’s tough to get substitute gigs and there’s no guarantee she’ll get called back any time soon. Unlike having a “real” job, she’s at the mercy of both opportunity and the discretion of the principals in the school district so if there is discrimination occurring, it’ll be far harder to prove. In this I feel her pain and frustration because I too don’t have a “real” job and am at the mercy of people both having projects that require me and them deciding to contract me instead of another artist or team of artists. Originally when I started this blog I was hesitant to post my name for fear that perhaps I might get passed over by some uptight churchie. If someone stops calling me, and they’re a churchie, yeah, it could very well be due to them knowing how I feel about religion and the god thing, but so what? Nothing I could do about it unlike if I was at a “real” job and was fired or denied things others got. So hopefully Harmon will get called to substitute again there and won’t have to face this kind of nonsense again. Also, hopefully, the day will come when none of us have to fear shit like this simply for how we think, or if we have blue hair.

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12 Responses to “The Blue Hair And The Crucible”

  1. Bigotry is based on all sorts of crap: body-shape, skin color, religion, gender … I guess we should add hair color to that list now. None of them are acceptable bases for disliking people, let alone doing them harm. This really is a pathetic story.

  2. Bigotry, like xenophobia, is simply a base human reaction to something that is different than us. We’re more civilized than that, you would think.

    But, then again, maybe not.

  3. Yes, prejudice is independent of religion, but religion played a part in this. Whether it was the root of the prejudice or a tool to be exploited by our mystery Abigail, it was there.I don't know how to get in touch with her, but there is an email contact for the writer of the article.

  4. My daughter-in-law is “black”, my grandchildren are mixed race, and this…concerns and distresses some people. It concerns and distresses them more that it DOESN’T distress my wife or me. Some of the older ones, well, you’re not going to be able to change their minds because xenophobia is what they were taught was right and good, Persons In Authority told them to beware of differences, keep a close eye out and make sure people hew to “The Norm”. (Some have asked what I thought when I met her. When one of the most beautiful girls you’ve ever seen in your life jumps out of your son’s truck, throws her arms around you, embraces you, and pronounces herself so happy to finally meet you, kisses you on the cheek, well, I was charmed. But then, I’m a guy and considered by most to be a pretty strange breed of cat, but good people are good people.)

    One harks back to Al Capp and his treatment in L’l Abner and his treatment of difference in his set about the people who had square eyes.

    Personally, if I’d have had a teacher who looked like that maybe I would have sat up and taken a bit more notice. Wouldn’t have DONE any better, probably, but I would have involved myself a bit more.

  5. Thanks for posting about this Philly. It’s unbelievable that stuff like this still goes on, but I guess it always will in one form or another. It’s not just a religious thing – though I’m quick as you are to point out the god/devil association in this case.

    But, unfortunately, it’s a evolutionary thing. We survived by creating In Groups and Out Groups and we fight wars for them, to this day. We can use our intellects to try to overcome it.

    Anywhere we can write to support her?

  6. I think all parents and teachers who support Harmon should dye their hair blue in sympathy — and keep it that color until she starts subbing again.

  7. The higher-ups have always exploited this and used it as a way to stay on top of things.

    During the “depression” during the time of the bonus march J. Edgar Hoover had the camps of the marchers infiltrated, tried agents provovateur, and used the usual Red Menace thing.

    The thing that worried him most wasn’t commies or socialists, it was that his agents in the camps were reporting seeing certain things. The groups from Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, and other southern states tents, or rather what was in them was what he regarded as the biggest danger to authority. His agents saw many tents from which the bare feet were protruding, and one set would be white and the other black.

    Hoover felt that this concordat was the greatest danger to “order” that the nation had faced so far. Felt it had to be stopped, and stopped fast.

  8. Interesting, nice post PhillyChief, that is a very outrageous situation.

    It definitely sounds like haughty bigotry to me. Such shameful actions ~based on religion or not~ in a school are unacceptable.

    Besides, I would be delighted to find a blue haired woman with a nose piercing as my substitute.

  9. I hate discrimination of any kind, and this is a prime example of how completely moronic people can be. It’s pathetic how petty and unkind people can be.

  10. I’m a wicca and I’d love having blue hair but I’ve never seen a blue wiccan so why would someone think everyone with blue hair is a witch

  11. You’re asking why the irrational would accept an irrational idea? LOL

    The way I saw it, someone recognized that the idea would be accepted enough to damage her so they put it forth. I’d say they were pretty right.

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