This 7-Year-Old Requested An Educational App Be More Inclusive Of Black Hair And Won
First-grader, Morgan Bugg, worked with her teacher to call for more hair diversity from the game app.
May 10, 2021 at 9:05 pm
An educational app has decided to update its avatars’ hairstyle options by including “Black-girl hair” after a 7-year-old girl requested for them to make the change.
With the help of her teacher, Morgan Bugg, a Black first-grader from Brentwood, Tennessee, called for more representation when she noticed that the app Freckle didn't have hairstyle options that resembled her own, The Washington Post reported.
“I felt kind of sad and jealous that there wasn’t any girl hair for me,” Bugg said. “So then I just got off the store and I was really mad.”
The gamified app responded that they were inspired by Bugg’s request, saying that they were going to update their hair designs.
“Our mission at Renaissance is to accelerate learning for all children and adults of all ability levels and ethnic and social backgrounds, worldwide. To that end, Renaissance is committed to producing content that is diverse, inclusive, and equitable for all learners,” the creator of the app said in a statement, according to Memphis News.
According to their website, Freckle works primarily as a differentiation platform to help teachers assist their students in multiple educational subjects.
Bugg was using the app last month as a part of her online curriculum for Edmondson Elementary School. She had collected enough coins within the app to upgrade her avatar but noticed there weren't any hair options that resembled hers. She expressed her disappointment to her teacher, Kelley Anne Joyner.
“What can we do to fix it?” Joyner asked Bugg.
Together, they decided that Joyner would write to the company on the girl’s behalf. Bugg said she thought the app's designers were unaware of what Black girls' hair looks like so she used green construction paper to sketch out new ideas.
According to The Washington Post, the company initially responded using an automatic reply from the support team, saying they were looking into the matter. But a month later Joyner and Bugg were notified that the app was using Bugg’s personal drawings as inspiration for their new designs.
Throughout history, the Black community— Black women and children alike— have faced discrimination and unjust policies that long excluded them from wearing their natural hair.
“Black hair discrimination often manifests through facially neutral policies or practices that profile, single out, or disproportionately burden Black people…” an NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund report read.
Equity & representation matter at all ages. When 7-year-old Morgan Bugg, daughter of TCSC CEO @MayaMBugg, noticed that her educational app Freckle – part of her online curriculum – didn’t provide avatar hair options for Black girls, she got right to work. https://t.co/zdwreeSi3h
— TN Charter School Center (@tncharters) May 4, 2021
The first-grader's mom believes the app’s decision to diversify their hair options is one that heavily impacts young Black girls like Bugg.
“I think when Morgan gets older, she might better realize the impact and the gravitas of what she and Ms. Joyner have done,” her mother Dr. Maya M. Bugg said.
The app's decision to update its avatars' hairstyles comes just as the Tennessee state Senate unanimously passed the CROWN Act, with a 28-0 vote, according to Refinery29. As Blavity previously reported, the federal bill was introduced by Sen. Corey Booker in 2019 with California becoming the first state to adopt the legislation.
The bill states that employers and schools are prohibited from discriminating against Black hairstyles.
Bugg’s mother praised her daughter and Joyner for realizing that Bugg’s representation mattered, Memphis News reported.
“You need to make sure that all students feel welcomed,” Dr. Bugg said, “and, it seems like something small, but if children are using a program and it’s mandatory to use that program, they should be able to see themselves represented.”