Students at the Pretoria Girls High School in South Africa are protesting against alleged racism after they were told to straighten out their afros.
The young girls claimed that their teachers told them their hair is “exotic” and needs to be tamed. The school does not have any specific rule against afros but generally states that hairstyles "should be conservative, neat and in keeping with the school uniform."
Many ex-students have also spoken up about the issue, saying they faced similar racism while they were at Pretoria High. Apparently, the girls have even been discouraged from speaking in their own languages.
People have taken to Twitter to express their support for the young girls. South Africa’s Minister of Arts and culture is one of them.
if Black ppl can't wear our natural hair & speak our indigenous languages in Africa, then where can we??? #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh— Tennie Mae (@so_treu) August 29, 2016
Just caught wind of #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh and I would love a day when black girls/women can wear their hair however and just be.— MistyKnightsTwistOut (@Steph_I_Will) August 29, 2016
At school we learn our names r complicated, nose-ugly, hair-untidy, skin-dirty! We learn 2be at war with our bodies. #StopRacismInSchools— Sbu Mpungose (@SbuMpungose) August 28, 2016
Firstly, we support the stance of Pretoria Girls High students to protect their right to have natural hair. #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) August 29, 2016
Secondly, it is unacceptable to ban students from speaking their African languages at school. #StopRacismAtPretoriaGirlsHigh— Min. Nathi Mthethwa (@NathiMthethwaSA) August 29, 2016
It all boils down to the fact that Africans are not being allowed to embrace their identity in their own country or even abroad. African Americans are constantly subjected to racism at the workplace, and social settings. Numerous cases of hate-crime against the community have come to the forefront, and the trend just keeps growing. It is about time, black people are allowed to live freely, and the world learns to embrace cultural diversity.