Dominican Republic's Education Employee Fired After Launching Natural Hair Campaign

The Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Education launched a PSA entitled “Ni Pelo Bueno Ni Pelo Malo” (No Good Hair, No Bad Hair), which encourages Black youth to embrace their identity and celebrate all hair textures.

The PSA addresses the longstanding stigma of afro-textured hair in the Dominican Republic and shows young students with different kinds of hair. “I am happy and different, I don’t care what people say,” two students spoke to the camera. One of them ended the video with the following quote: “Live your life and leave my hair alone.” Marianela Pinales, director of gender equality and development for the Ministry of Education (MINERD), also had a cameo appearance. “No girl or boy or an adult should be discriminated for his or her personal appearance,” she said. “We are committed to guaranteeing the equality and identity of all people.”

Hours after this video was released on Tuesday, Pinales was discharged from her position. As Pinales was introducing the PSA during a TV show Tuesday morning, Febles said via Instagram that the officer was notified of her dismissal due to a decision reached by MINERD upper management.

The video was created following the case of a Dominican mother whose 11-year old daughter was suspended for wearing an afro-like hairdo. Pinales and other members of the ministry handled the case, and allowed the young student to return to school. The Ministry argued that Pinales was absent from her job for about 30 days, hence its decision to fire her. Pinales rejected the office’s version, adding that it should have “plenty of proof” that she was attending the Ministry’s sessions.

“I have my ID and all evidence that I participated in a series of sessions at the United Nations [headquarters in New York] with the women’s minister Janet Camilo and I have pictures with her, who is also witness that I was working with the ministry throughout [March 11-22],” she told Dominican newspaper Listin Diario.

She also debunked the Ministry’s alleged unawareness of the “No Good Hair, No Bad Hair” campaign, noting it was part of a plan that was in the works since last year. “We have several campaigns in our operative plans specifically to tackle discrimination, and this video responds to a campaign that has been managed and structured within the ministry since last year,” she told the newspaper. Some have questioned whether Pinales’ dismissal had something to do with the video. “A lot of people asked me on social media and in person whether Marianela Pinales was fired because of the campaign,” Febles said on Twitter. “I don’t know. I asked her and all she knows is that she was fired at 5:30 p.m.“

Ministry Director of Communications Glenn Davis Felipe dispelled this claim. “We back the campaign, and in the next few days, will strengthen it,” he told website El Caribe on Wednesday, adding that the Ministry has the liberty to carry out such decisions.


About the Author

Robert Valencia is the breaking news editor for The North Star. His work as editor and reporter appeared on Newsweek, World Politics Review, Mic.com, Public Radio International and The Miami Herald, among other outlets. He’s a frequent commentator on foreign affairs and US politics on Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, Voice of America, C-SPAN, Sirius XM and other media outlets across Latin America and the Caribbean.