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”.
In 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.
This message from a teacher to a parent takes the cake:
Let’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?