Dozens of girls in South Africa demonstrated outside their high school this week against rules that allegedly discriminate against black students.
The protests reportedly broke out after a 13-year-old black student of Pretoria High School for Girls was disciplined for penning an essay on "white privilege.” The girl was told that her afro was too “unruly.”
As it turns out, it wasn’t an isolated case.
Though the school hasn’t explicitly issued any rules against afros, black girls at the Pretoria have often been told their hair looked “untidy” or needed straightening.
However, this time around, when the students were allegedly threatened with being barred from taking their exams if they didn’t stop wearing dreadlocks, they had had enough:
Meanwhile, a petition was also circulated against the school’s discriminatory code of conduct.
“Right now, learners at Pretoria High school are demanding that racist practices at the school are brought to an end,” the petition reads. “Girls attending the school have been forced to straighten their hair, are accused of conspiring when standing in groups and face other intolerable comments and actions.”
The issue attracted national as well as international attention and also prompted a response from South Africa’s Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthethwa.
“Schools should not be used as a platform to discourage students from embracing their African identity," Mthethwa tweeted.
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
Pretoria Girls High was founded in 1902, open to students from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds. But during the apartheid era, it was designated a whites only school.