Within the African diaspora men, women and children have long been shamed for the texture of their hair. Black women especially. Sadly it is not just within the diaspora where this kind shaming has taken place.
At Pretoria Girls High School, a high school in South Africa, where the majority population is black, black girls are being told to straighten their hair.
This came as a surprise to many across the globe, thinking that a school in Africa would embrace the natural texture of these girls hair, although it shouldn’t come as a shock to know that originally Pretoria Girls High School was an all-white school during the apartheid era.
Even in Montreal racial issues surrounding black women’s looks are under scrutiny. Nyomi Nichilo-Jacobs a former Dawson College student has been lectured many times about her hair. When asked if she has ever been shamed for her hair (which has been in dreadlocks since she was a little girl) she said “I definitely have, mostly at work by management. I find that because they just don’t understand black hair. Like there’s a girl we work with [her name is] Bianca, when she has her hair straight they say nothing, but the minute it’s in braid or afro it’s a big deal and she has to wear a hair net. Meanwhile all the white and Indian girls can get away with it.”
It appears that the school’s code of conduct is still using the white body as the norm and not expanding a diverse outlook onto its student with its outdated rules.
The rules force the girls to have flat, tied-back pony tails or corn rows, braids dreadlocks that can be no larger than one centimeter. This can be difficult or nearly impossible, given these girls’ natural hair texture.
And so as a protest, these girls’ both past and present students decided to fight back against racist and diminishing rules and wear their natural hair out and protest at the school using the hashtag #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh. It has been used on twitter over an astonishing 15000 times.
“It should not be a crime to be born black with long black hair, #AJStream #AfroHair is African beauty” Tweet from Vincent Amukumb
And not just in South Africa but everywhere black women exist idea of straight hair is forced upon them. Eurocentric ideals of beauty have been seen as the standard of beauty. For many black people across the globe, just wearing their hair out in an afro, in its natural state is a sign of unity, confidence and resilience.
“Do not remove the kinks from your hair. Remove them from your brain.” -Marcus Garvey