In Jamaica, a school-aged girl named “Z” is being denied admission to a prestigious school because her mother has refused to cut off her dreadlocks.
The president of the Kensington Primary School stands behind the school’s “no dreadlocks” policy while Z’s mother, Sherine Virgo thinks “It is our natural hair, it is our nation’s culture and it is what God has blessed us with” and will not be cutting off her daughter’s hair, The Root reports.
Kensington sites the reason for the ban is to “avoid lice and maintain hygiene.”
Thanks to a court injunction earlier in August, Z will be attending the school this month. If Virgo wins her case, which is being backed by Jamaicans for Justice it could mean schools across Jamaica could be banned from imposing laws stopping children with natural hair and dreadlocks from succumbing to dress codes.
Another example of a child being barred from attending school because of their hair is the case involving six-year-old Clinton Stanley Jr.
This father had to watch his 6-year-old son get kicked out of his first day of school for having dreadlocks. pic.twitter.com/EVWkqfTYHk
— AJ+ (@ajplus) August 17, 2018
Stanley was denied entry to Florida Christian school A Book’s Christian Academy because of his locs. Their reason being, that his locs did not conform to the “biblical standards of the school.”
Afro-textured hair has long been used as a discriminatory factor in America. It has been deemed unladylike, unacceptable, unkempt, unpresentable, inappropriate and ugly.
In Africa, hairstyles were used as a way to express levels of wealth, social class, spiritual interaction with God or as a way to plan an escape from enslavement.
In desperate attempts to hide beauty and disguise jealousy, black hair has been wrapped up in superficial laws.
A tignon (tiyon) is a headdress used to conceal hair. It was adorned by free and slave Creole women of African ancestry in Louisiana in 1786. The law was enacted under Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miró, following the perception that Black women’s features often attracted white suitors and were a threat to white women.
Nonetheless, black women did not despair. Instead, they abided by the rule and turned it into fashion. They used unique jewels, colored ribbons, and wrapping styles which accentuated their gorgeousness even more. Out of this bore the various head ties seen today on women of color.
Tignons have been worn by women in the Caribbean islands of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Dominica which included hidden messages. They used Madras – a popular fabric amongst slaves and free women to achieve their head ties.
Tignon law eventually went out of effect in the 1800’s yet, black women worldwide continue to use head wraps as wardrobe staples paying homage to their culture, signifying their pride.
Then there is the infuriating reality of afro-inspired hairstyles being accepted on everyone who is not black or not given due credit. A great example of this is members of the Kardashian clan adorning styles that are clearly black inspired and being praised for doing so.
Who could forget when Kim claimed she was wearing ‘Bo Derek’ braids when in fact they are Fulani.
She also wore glass hair, which fashion magazine Marie Claire described in their August edition as ‘a new hairstyle trend on Instagram’ when in fact its origin is Egypt.
One thing is for certain, black hair encompasses strength, beauty and resilience and that fact cannot be denied.