“Your natural hair makes you look unkempt”

natural hair

In case you haven’t heard, something amazing happened in South Africa. Just recently, the pupils of Pretoria Girls High protested over subliminal racist rules at the school. Apparently, the school basically told these young girls that their natural hair and Afros make their uniform look “unkempt”.

ShockerIn a world where black women and girls continue to defy the odds and accomplish feats in business and career, our hair cannot continue to define us. It’s been a decade since India Arie reminded us that we are not our hair.

Yes, we understand that typically, our natural hair is incredibly thick. We know it is lush, ravishing, gorgeous and most likely, voluminous. We also understand that our hair does not lie flat like straight hair. In a society that associates hair that is straight or has loose curls as ”tidy”, we obviously don’t fit.

Yet, having natural hair should never be a crime and it’s high time we (Africans included!) stopped hating on natural hair. I mean, what’s wrong with deciding to wear your hair without a relaxer? When will the world understand that all hair is equal? Healthy hair can be natural, straightened, coloured or chemically treated!

Back to the issue at Pretoria, the students have also claimed that the rules in place don’t allow them wear inherently Black hairstyles. They are not to wear Bantu knots, braids, dreadlocks too!

News of protests from the students against the school’s arbitrary rules have gone viral. A petition titled, ‘Stop Racism at Pretoria Girls High’ that has garnered over 14,000 asks that;

– The school’s code of conduct does not discriminate against black and Muslim girls;

– Disciplinary action against teachers and other staff members implementing any racist policy and/or racist actions

– Protection for the learners who protested to ensure they will not be victimized.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirls has been trending on Twitter.

boqor riya #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighmodupe oloruntoba #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighthapelo mokoena #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighthickleeyonce #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighThis message from a teacher to a parent takes the cake:

amandla #stopracismatpretoriagirlshighLet’s hear what you think about the natural hair debate. Should the way you keep your hair define you? Should educational institutions have the power to decide how girls keep their hair?

About Anibe Idajili

Anibe IdajiliAnibe Idajili is a writer and an intern at SLA. Anibe writes stuff that explore edges and refute limits. She loves old school jams and is rarely bored alone.

16 thoughts on ““Your natural hair makes you look unkempt”

  1. How I wish young girls like me can do things like this to cause changes in our societies. The kind of hair one wears is a non-issue. They are better things to worry about in a continent riddled with poverty, diseases and corruption.

    1. Esther, you’re so right. We have more important issues to tackle. What’s stopping you from heralding a change, though? You can, in your own little way.

  2. U know I’m kinda facing the exact same thing because I went natural a year ago and there was something about it that felt right like I did the right thing. After that I keep getting this altitude from people like I did a terrible thing u know because 90% of Nigerians believe if ur hair is not relaxed then it’s bad and I also get questions like are u an “SU” (Christian sister) u know it’s actually funny… I think we need to accept our hair, it’s part of what makes us who we are cuz if we don’t who will?

    1. I understand the division and self righteous indignation and trust me, it’s tiring. Truth is, it’s basically a choice on how some people decide to wear their hair. And yes, if we don’t accept our hair, who will?

      Thanks Toyorsiii for dropping by.

  3. Proud of the girls for standing up. Pretty sure that the school has no choice now, but to do the right thing and leave them be. Yes, African schools can be rather conservative and limit expression through fashion & beauty, but this should be on fair, justified grounds. In this case, there is none.

    P.S. The last screenshot is totally unrelated to the Pretoria Girls story. Please take it down. (I saw it on Twitter previously + the text refers to “Junior’s hair”. Hard to imagine a female Junior at Pretoria GIRLS High.

    1. Thanks AB x MeeMee for your contribution to the debate. I agree. The school would have no choice now but to do the right thing.

      The screenshot in question is obviously a whatsapp message. It was screen grabbed and tweeted as a response to the #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh. So in our opinion, it’s relevant to the discourse. I hope I clarified that.

      1. The screen shot is actually relevant as it was a father standing up for his son who was told to cut his african hair. The debate is about african hair and race dynamics after all.

  4. …issue well addressed! It’s high time we started respecting one another. The health status of one’s hair is never determined by the style of the hair. It think people should renew their mind so as to see right!

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