DETROIT, Mich. — We all know words can hurt. Until recently, a 7th-grade student said he was skipping class and avoiding friends because of bullying over his hair.
It was impacting his grades and attitude until his principal, and a barber stepped in, and a simple haircut transformed his year.
Jerome Andrews goes to Fisher Magnet Upper Academy. Until recently, he was being bullied for having an afro with an irregular spot that just wouldn't grow
"It was a lot of times where they would just dog out on me. I can't do nothing because, you know, look at my hair, what can I say?" Jerome said.
He told us the insults from his classmates caused him to talk less at school and skip class, so teachers couldn't ask him to take his hat off.
"I really wanted to get my haircut, but usually, I didn't find the money to get my hair cut," Jerome said.
His principal, Dr. Shekitra Green, said she'd ask him to take off his durag dozens of times.
"Dr. Green would be right there, she would say, 'take off that hat, Jerome,' but I'd be scared to take off the hat in front of kids because I look stupid, I think I just look stupid," Jerome said.
"This one particular day, I had enough, and I said, 'That's it, Jerome, you're going home!' and he took his durag and hat off, and he looked at me," Green said. "That moment he looked at me sparked something from his eyes and told me, 'You have to do something, there's something going on.'"
Green called her barber, Khari Clipperz. He dropped what he was doing to come to help Jerome out.
"Once she explained the situation to me, I just felt like I needed to do something," Khari said.
Jerome said he was so surprised. Khari is a Detroit barber who also grew up struggling with his hair. He transformed Jerome's look, instilling confidence in every cut.
"That's why I came to cut your hair as well, because I need you back in school, I need you back in class," he said. "The whole point of this process here is to make you feel better about yourself and build that confidence up in you."
"What I really feel was like a new me," Jerome said.
Weeks later, because of the care in the chair, the seventh grader has gone up two grades in math and isn't skipping class.
I used to skip class to avoid showing my hair," Jerome said. "Now I don't do that, I run to my class to make sure I don't be late because I know Dr. Green is now playing with me."