DENVER (CBS4) – A mother is upset after her young daughter was kicked off of a Denver cheerleading squad because of her hair. Not only does styling Niemah Young’s naturally curly hair take a lot of effort, but it can hurt.
“It is easily a two hour process,” said her mother, Tiyana. “I know it hurts her because I have to literally use a hard brush and pull her hair back into the tightest ponytail I can get it into.”
That’s why when her cheerleading coach Stephanie Trujillo of Diamond Elite All Star Cheerleading asked her to attach a hair piece on top of a ponytail which makes the girl’s hair look more uniform, Tiyana reluctantly agreed.
Niemah wore it for a whole season, saying she got lightheaded at competitions. Then at the end of the season, her coach made an exception.
“Coach said ‘well if she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t have to wear it,'” Tiyana said.
She worked with the coach to find a compromise for a different hair style. Trujillo seemed to like the idea, that is, until the start of this season.
Tiyana said, “The coach was like, ‘We’ve changed the hair. We need her to buy the hairpiece so we need $20 A.S.A.P.'”
Tiyana says she refused because she felt like Trujillo was going back on her word. Then she says the coach called her daughter out after practice.
“The coach continues and asks the team ‘how do you feel that this little African American girl gets to wear her natural hair?'”
It took a while for Tiyana to find out what happened because Niemah kept it from her mom. She says it was only when other parents started calling to see if her daughter was okay when she found out. When Tiyana finally heard the story she was upset. She asked to meet with the coach, but says the coach sent a letter stating her daughter was kicked off the team.
When asked by CBS4 for a response, Coach Stephanie Trujillo, who owns Diamond Elite, sent CBS4’s Michael Abeyta a letter stating Tiyana was making threats toward the students and staff which is why Niemah was dismissed.
She also provided a screen shot of a comment Tiyana made on social media where she says Stephanie “crossed the wrong mother” and she wants to “make an example” out of Coach Trujillo.
Tiyana also says in the message she thinks the coach could lose her license because she believes Trujillo is not medically cleared to coach. The letter provided previously by Tiyana and subsequently by Trujillo ends by saying the local police have been notified and a restraining order will be issued for making threats against the program.
Tiyana says she did write that comment, but it was taken out of context and she was just trying to defend her daughter. She says she would never threaten anyone.
“I’ve worked hard to not become that person that unfortunately black women and black men are portrayed to be; violent.”
Niemah doesn’t want to cheer anymore because she doesn’t feel welcome in the cheer community. Tiyana is disheartened that her daughter has been made to feel like an outsider and like being different is wrong. She says she worries about how this will affect her daughter’s self-esteem and self-worth. She just wants an apology.
“Whether they are White, Black, Asian, curly hair, straight hair, no hair, I think all girls should feel supported,” Tiyana said.
Since CBS4 first reported this story, Tiyana has received emails from other parents in the Cheer group saying, “You don’t f***ing scare me. I.D.G.A.F if your black,” and, “My kids safety and the girls safety comes first and when your saying your going to go down to the gym with your husband is a big threat. I had to keep my child home for a week to make sure you guys weren’t going to go shoot up the gym or try to hurt my child.”
Tiyana is also out thousands of dollars in fees and money for outfits. She says Diamond Elite did waive their early withdrawal fee when Niemah was dismissed.