“[…] I have stated before that the ‘Revolution’ that took place in 1970, in T&T, is an unfinished revolution. If we do not continue to educate and sensitise our younger generation on their self-worth then, unfortunately, history is inclined to repeat itself.
“[…] How in Heaven’s name could a senior cleric of the Anglican Church, who is so gifted and educated up to the doctoral level, and a school principal, another highly educated individual, be so out of step—and prepared to implement decisions that reek of discrimination and insensitivity, perhaps unintentionally, under the guise of discipline? […]”
The following Letter to the Editor on the decision by Trinity College (Moka) to block several students from taking full part in their graduation ceremony due to their hairstyles was submitted to Wired868 by Louis W Williams of St Augustine:
This unsavoury matter relating to the recent Trinity College graduation ceremony fiasco has caused me great anguish.
In any depiction of Jesus Christ—whether, incorrectly, as a blonde, blue-eyed man or otherwise—he is portrayed as a man with long hair. In fact, many purists in the Jewish, Christian and Islamic religions frown on the cutting of one’s hair.
These religions all, in effect, share the Old Testament of the Holy Bible, and the purist can cite passages in the Old Testament which forbid the cutting of one’s hair.
In fact, quite ironically, the cutting of one’s hair is viewed as a vain fashion statement that goes against the natural order of things and God’s law.
I have stated before that the “Revolution” that took place in 1970, in T&T, is an unfinished revolution. If we do not continue to educate and sensitise our younger generation on their self-worth then, unfortunately, history is inclined to repeat itself.
Yes, there are laws that offer protection including the relevant constitutional provisions. However, we need to go beyond that aspect of things. Litigation is time-consuming, expensive and disruptive of relationships.
How in Heaven’s name could a senior cleric of the Anglican Church, who is so gifted and educated up to the doctoral level, and a school principal, another highly educated individual, be so out of step—and prepared to implement decisions that reek of discrimination and insensitivity, perhaps unintentionally, under the guise of discipline?
The actions of these ladies, in debarring the young men from fully participating in their graduation ceremony because of their well-groomed and fashionable hairstyles is deplorable.
The way these young men were treated reminded me of the dark old days of Segregation in the USA and Apartheid in South Africa and Zimbabwe. These young men, on one of the most auspicious days in their lives, were separated from their fellow students, and they and their parents had to endure the humiliation of being treated like outcasts.
I am sure that most of us who are conscious about our African heritage have seen the video footage of the signs at certain facilities, including washrooms, in segregated USA: “No blacks and dogs allowed”.
I still, often enough, shed a tear whenever I see such footage.
Both the cleric and the principal are relatively young individuals who were either not yet born, or were babies/toddlers in 1970. What were they taught in the primary and secondary schools they attended? What were they taught at the universities they attended? What about the relevant teacher training college and theological institute?
Food for thought.
What is even more appalling about this matter is that it appears there was a committee (“a board”) that was aware of this matter for over a year, and never sought to take the proactive approach of reviewing and obviously changing its ghastly policy on this matter. Board members need to be made of sterner stuff.
The Anglican Church has had an unenviable past as a complicit agent in the matter of Slavery/Human Trafficking in the Caribbean. I am sure that it would wish not to replicate any semblance of a similar degradation and utter disrespect of human beings.
A profoundly sincere apology must now be conveyed to the affected students and their parents by the Anglican Bishop of T&T. To err is human. Love, repentance and forgiveness are very noble human qualities which I dare say would not be lost on the affected students and their parents.
My understanding is that the issue under consideration is not isolated to Trinity College, but is also plaguing other secondary schools.
I understand the restrictions imposed on the government by the Concordat. However, I pray that good sense will prevail in the discussions between the Minister of Education and the relevant stakeholders on 6 July, leading to the voluntary elimination of such discriminatory practices wherever they exist.
Let us not have the courts of law determine for us what we know is right and can decide for ourselves.
Statement on 30 June 2023 from The Governing Body of Trinity College Chairperson The Very Reverend Dr Shelley-Ann Tenia, dean and rector, The Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, Trinity College, Moka, Maraval:
Trinity College, Moka is a government-assisted Anglican secondary school managed by the Trinity Board of Governors. For more than sixty (60) years the College has distinguished itself by providing a safe environment for the holistic formation of young minds who excel in every discipline.
The Board congratulates the graduating class of 2023. We are immensely proud of our graduates and the entire school administration for their unwavering dedication and commitment to equipping our students with the essential skills for future success.
The administration of Trinity College, Moka, in conjunction with its Board of Governors, issues the following statement in respect of the regrettable events at the school’s Valedictory Service on 27 June 2023. The photograph with the narrative being widely circulated showing a group of boys standing outside the church is misleading and deeply disturbing.
Contrary to some reports, all graduands and parents were accommodated at the service. The students who failed to comply with the school uniform policy, hairstyle or otherwise, regardless of ethnicity, were seated in the side chapel, within the body of the church and received their certificates, at the event, after the vote of thanks.
We acknowledge that this course of action did not sit well with all parents and students. We understand the disappointment, embarrassment and vexation of parents and students—both those who received their certificates later in the programme and those who witnessed and endured the conduct of a few young men and some parents.
The Valedictory Service is an annual act of worship held at an Anglican Church. After months of regular email notices and reminders in assemblies about the various aspects of the uniform policy, and in the weekly notices of the 11th, 18th and 25th of June, all parents and students were advised that students attending the service were expected to be in full and proper dress uniform as outlined in the student handbook (pages 10 and 14).
Further, on the 13th and 22nd June at the service briefing and rehearsal, students were reminded that, should they breach the Dress Code regulation, they would not be allowed to process with their peers.
While acknowledging the various perspectives and views surrounding the uniform policy, we stand firm that acceptable conduct dictates that existing rules and regulations must be followed until and unless they are altered or amended.
We stand willing to continue discussions with all stakeholders with a view to ventilating the issues and arriving at a solution ahead of the new academic year, which is consonant with good order and changing norms.
The events of 27 June were, in the view of Trinity College, an act of indiscipline by a few students supported by parents. Compounding the situation was the disruption of the act of worship and the valedictorians as well as blatant disrespect for the Principal and Masters of Ceremonies who attempted to re-establish some order.
The College fosters and supports critical thinking and probing challenges to the status quo. We uphold the values of order, decency and respect; values which we try to inculcate in the young men and women in our care.
Our hallowed halls have educated many of our nation’s leaders, philosophers and change agents. The Board, Administration and Staff of Trinity College Moka wish each of our former students every success as they move on to the next phase of their lives.