Students In South Africa Protest Hair Policy


Students enrolled at Pretoria High School for Girls in South Africa were told that their natural hair is unwelcomed. In response a series of protests were carried with 13 year old Zulaikha Patel being the pioneer. After the rise of protests, a petition which has gained up to 20,000 signatures was created to have officials eradicate the policy.


  Picture of Patel standing her ground after security and school officials interrupt protest.

And others took to social media to voice their opinions.

Embrace The Crown did more research about the issue and found an article from Daily Vox, a South African media outlet, that offers more information about the past that has led up to the recent uproar.
"Racially charged incidents between students and staff members are commonplace, as are sweeping these issues under the rug and pretending that PHSG is a school that upholds the value of equal treatment. 
In 2015, a black student in grade 10 was told outside an exam venue that she had to “fix” her hair. With nothing to fix, she entered the exam. She was further told by a staff member that she would not be allowed to write her exam with her hair “like this”. This same student was, in a different incident involving a different staff member, told that her natural hair looked like a bird’s nest.Read more here
After the protest made international headlines, an ambassador from the Guateng Department of Education (DOE) visited Pretoria High School for Girls. During this visit it was decided that the policy would be reviewed and suspended. Oupa Bodibe, a spokesperson for the South African DOE told CNN, "this is a real problem (and has) caused cultural clashes. Learners are majority black and teachers majority white. Many South Africans have said the young girls showed uncommon bravery and that the protest was a long time coming." The events in South Africa is not new. Indeed more resistance to school policies will hit the world like a wave if care is not taken.


Zulaikha Patel is comforted by her friend. Photo Source: twitter
On the last week of July students enrolled at a school in Kentucky, USA had to deal with a similar policy that banned Afrocentric hairstyles (Afro, box braids, cornrow, etc). Black women also have to deal with the notion that Afrocentric hair is unprofessional which resulted in many Black women altering the natural state of their hair. How long will this last? When will non-Black stop telling us that our natural hair is not beautiful nor fitting?

This is why organizations and campaigns similar to Embrace The Crown were created. We hope to bring awareness and also encourage Black women to embrace their crown (hair) in a world that tells them not to. Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/embracethecrown and do not forget to join in on the hashtag #StopRacismInSchools.


Zulaikha Patel: #StopRacismInSchools

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