Dominican Ministry of Education Accused of Firing Employee for Video Celebrating Natural Hair

Lead Photo: Photo by Westend61 / Getty
Photo by Westend61 / Getty
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Set to upbeat music, Dominicans of all ages and backgrounds explain why they shouldn’t be judged by their hair type in an ad. Then driving home the point is Marianela Pinales, who is identified as the director of Dirección de Equidad de Género y Desarrollo for he Ministerio de Educación (MINERD). “No boy, girl, or adult should be discriminated against for their physical appearance,” she said in the video. “We are committed to guaranteeing the equality and [protecting the] identity of all people.” It was an uplifting message – and a necessary one. For far too long, those with Afro-textured hair have had their locks reduced to “pelo malo.” The video showed people embracing their hair, and while it was supposed to bring positivity into the world, it has generated much controversy.

As Latino Rebels reported, Pinales was fired shortly after she appeared on Edith Febles’ La cosa como es program, where the video was shown. MINERD, however, argues that her firing had nothing to do with the video in question.

“We back the campaign, and in the next few days, we will strengthen it,” said Glenn Davis Felipe, the director of communications for the ministry.

MINERD added that it respects artículo 39, which guarantees equal rights for everyone, regardless of gender, race, age, nationality, religion, and more. Marina Hilario has replaced her in this role.

Reportedly, MINERD allege that Pinales lost her job because she hadn’t shown up to events for 30 days. However, Pinales has denied this. She said that there’s plenty of proof that she has attended events, such as the Comisión de la Condición Jurídica y Social de la Mujer.

“I have evidence,” she said, according to Listin Diario. “I was even at this event with la ministra de la Mujer and I posed for photographs alongside Janet Camilo, who is witness to my having worked with the Ministerio de Educación.”

Pinales also said that the ministry had not paid her for the entire month of March, and that the ad wasn’t something that came out of nowhere. MINERD, she said, knew this was part of a campaign that she’s been working on since last year.

For her part, Febles has tried to get to the bottom of the firing, but in conversations with Pinales, she has not learned any new information. “I’ve asked her but all she knows is that she received a call at 5:30 to inform her that on orders of higher ups she was discharged from the job.”

But given the timing of Pinales’s firing, many are skeptical about MINERD’s response. Many are showing support for Pinales. Check out some tweets below.