Afrotastic: The Fight of Systematic Racism
The Afro has never been held as a symbol of beauty but rather stamped with negative connotations, such as being seen as a sign of rebellion, labelled unprofessional, clownish or assumed to be unclean. For generations, women with afros or afro like hair have applied toxic chemicals to their hair in order to straighten their beautiful manes. However, some have done it out of choice, while others did it due to obligations. The extremity of how disliked the afro is can be seen by typing into Google images ‘unprofessional hair’, then typing in it’s contrasting ‘professional hair’.
In August, a group of teenage girls from a school in South Africa, Pretoria Girls High, decided to break the systematic racism imbedded within their schools code of conduct. They took to campus to flaunt their exquisite curls, dressed in their school uniform and chanted about how they were tired of trying to live up to Euro centric beauty standards. Why couldn’t they be African within an African country? The code of conduct stated that girls with afros either had to have braids or straight their hair. The actions of these girls sparked uproar around the world with it gaining coverage in The Huffington Post and The Guardian. Black female students around South Africa joined in with the protest, exposing their schools in the process for upholding the same prejudiced rules. South Africa’s public protector, Thuli Madonsela, stated: “Because of our Apartheid history, we have rules and laws set in place that are still a symbol of the past. It is up to the authority figures in this country to place new laws and rules that integrate our diverse nation”
Thanks to the actions of those brave girls, schools in South Africa are now rewriting their codes of conduct to allow girls to parade their stunning natural hair. Here’s hoping that this will spark the train to destination afro pride.