There is a firestorm happening in South Africa surrounding natural hair where high school girls are protesting the racist hair policies at the Pretoria High School for Girls. The young women have been told to relax their hair and have been ridiculed by teachers and school officials.
The protest was lead by 13 yr old Zulaikha Patel who has had to change schools 3 times due to her hair. Zulaikha and her classmates show just the level of strength and power they have as young ladies fighting this fight for the entire world of black women and men.
During the week of the 28th of August: that is who we became. Black girls mobilised to stand as a unit and show Girls High that we see each other and they need to see us.
Girls came to the school on civvies day with the intent to carry on as normal while wearing all black garments and doeks.
Instead of attempting to start a meaningful dialogue, security guards loosely patrolled the outside assembly. Girls wearing doeks that sported the ANC logo were pulled from assembly and taken into the headmistress’s office.
Teachers told learners in classrooms that they felt threatened and scared. Because black girls in colourful doeks are something to be feared. After school, groups of black girls were repeatedly told to disperse because they “appeared to be conspiring”.
The general consensus of the demonstration on Friday was that we were seen, but not heard. And this was unacceptable. So, once again, black girls mobilised.
We decided that during the school’s annual spring fair, we as black students would meet at the netball courts to hold hands and walk to the front of the school. No shouting, no dancing, no struggle songs.
A silent walk of sisters, hand in hand. Before the group could get a head start, the security guards shut the gates, forcefully pushing girls backwards and reporting the procession as a “snaakse groep”. When the gates re-opened, attention was on us. Girls proceeded to walk to the front of the school and upon their arrival were met with a police car, extra security force and members of the governing body threatening to arrest girls as young as 14. All the while raffle tickets continued to be sold in the background.
In a scenario that should have sparked more anger and unrest, there was a weariness. A sense of fatigue. We were shown, once again, that our voices don’t matter. That our anger is unfounded. That our emotions are an inconvenience.
When we were taken into an empty classroom to have a “discussion” with members of the governing body (who proceeded to tell us that we didn’t need to “add on” to already discussed issues and that cultural appropriation should be seen as a compliment), we felt ourselves being swept under the rug again. Our collective story was just another to be lost in the school files, labelled “we looked into it.”
@UKafrolista weighed in:
— UKafrolista (@UKafrolista) August 30, 2016
A petition calling for an end to racism at Pretoria High has gathered 25,000 signatures. We are so proud of these young women!