Updated: Sep 21, 2020
As an educator, I have often contemplated the rippling effects of barring secondary student s from a class, an exam or even a school because of their natural hair styles. Of course, where rules and regulations exist, a zero tolerance approach has to be taken to establish order, so I tread softy.
Some students are quite excited to not even be given a chance to bore themselves with another exam, or pretend to be productive over the exam paper until it seems as if other students are finished. Some students, especially males can not afford some of the trims required of them while others are clearly disrespectful.
I understand that for a while we have come to associate a sect of Black men wearing locks, twists, or plaits as being rebellious or even criminal, but we tend not to associate the same for a male of Indian or even Chinese descent. Undoubtedly, the style of the "typical" men with unscrupulous motives can be so attractive to young men who find it difficult to settle and choose a career path; the last thing a school wants is trends which distracts from a student's academic upliftment.
Nonetheless, do we realize that other students of Asian or Causian descent, those with straighter hair, get to wear their much longer hair than the male student with the typical “Afrcian kinky “ hair?
When schools are not allowing our royal prince and princesses to wear their locks, fros, bantu knots or “chiney bumps”, aren’t we in some in stances signalling the wrong messages- diminishing their identity?
The beginning of a new school year approaches and many students will have to unwillingly, remove the braids and extensions which are not allowed at school; I will not argue about that. Notwithstanding, will our students still feel confident and gorgeous afterwards? Do we make it clear to our children that our natural hair had always told others about who we are- afrocentric.
“ Black Lives Matter ” had been trending, but black hair matters too. Ladies and gentlemen, were you not appreciative when natural hair care Youtube videos, websites and products, and movements started to trend?
I was even more excited when two states in the United States of America banned discrimination against natural hair styles; I want to celebrate when Jamaica ban discrimination against natural hairstyles. Every Emancipation day, we should have many reasons to celebrate.
Too often, males and females have had to change their natural hair due to social norms entangled in European aesthetics. May we further the work of Marcus Garvey and other reformers to improve ourselves and as Bob Marley sang it- emancipate ourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind.
When I pursued a psychology degree, I tried to free my mind from the legacies of the transatlantic slave trade. Yes, slavery had been abolished and many black people may have felt compelled to smoothen their hair texture to camouflage into a European, silky look.
Overall, the hair shaft in women of African descent can get so fragile- from dry, curly and frizzy textures. Nonetheless, many have damaged their scalp and hair shaft with harsh chemicals and fine tooth combs as a way of complying to professional and Caucasian standards of beauty or just adapting to trends.
So, if a man or woman or especially a child chooses to embrace their natural hair and wear a protective style such as locs, or a less protective style such as a fro, may they exercise their right to do so just like Bob Marley whose image and revolutionary vybe is interwoven into brand Jamaica.
Wearing protective styles such as bantu knots or locs, not only protects the hair, it protects the identity of beautiful black men and women.
Of course, let us not judge us women who may wear wigs or extensions for the sake of wearing styles or just being more punctual. Nonetheless, we must be very cautious that we are not trying to remove the kinks from our hair when we should remove the kinks from our brain as rightly said by Marcus Garvey.