“[…] Some of our citizens, unfortunately, seem to hold the view that the natural hair type of students of African descent and their African ancestry/heritage and culture are not valid considerations in the crafting and implementation of school rules.
“[…] It is refreshing that like in 1970, the heroes of the day are very conscious and intelligent young men—on this occasion, from Trinity College—who stood up for what is right and just, in the face of discrimination and the utmost humiliation, disrespect, and obscene assault on their dignity, integrity and character…”
The following Letter to the Editor on the Minister of Education’s new National School Hair Policy was submitted to Wired868 by Louis W Williams of St Augustine:
“Struggle is a never-ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.”
Coretta Scott King
I am very pleased with the outcome thus far of the meeting between the Minister/Ministry of Education and some stakeholders on the issue of a National School Hair Code.
To be sure there are certain things that need tweaking, but much progress has been made. It is a work in progress. There also needs to be consultation on such matters, periodically, between the stakeholders and organisations, such as the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago.
One of the matters that needs tweaking is the issue of the wearing of wigs and the dyeing of hair. I note that the school authorities have a certain discretion on such matters, so there is not a blanket prohibition, but this is potentially a very sensitive matter that must be handled with great care and attention.
For example, there may be some female students who are receiving treatment for cancer or are afflicted with some other disease, that would cause them to lose their hair. It would, obviously, be very insensitive if such students were prohibited from wearing wigs.
Some female students with natural short hair are bullied. A wig may be helpful.
There are also some students who are sensitive about the natural colour of their hair. I recall from my own schooldays where some students, particularly the boys, were bullied because their natural hair colour was (sugar) brown.
It is unfortunate that a very small minority of stakeholders appears to be not fully supportive of the outcome of the meeting. I am disappointed that some of our citizens are still so tone-deaf on such issues in 2023.
Worse, some of them are educators.
In this regard, some of our citizens, unfortunately, seem to hold the view that the natural hair type of students of African descent and their African ancestry/heritage and culture are not valid considerations in the crafting and implementation of school rules.
Accordingly, in my view, there seems to be an inherent/unconscious bias, by implications, that Africa is a backward place, and such an association even with regard to hairstyle and culture will lead to a rapid deterioration of moral standards, values, law and order, and inevitable social decay.
Given all that has transpired in this country in 1970 and, globally, with the struggle and eventual abolition of segregation in the USA, and apartheid in South Africa and Zimbabwe, I really thought that we had passed that stage long ago. Clearly, I was mistaken.
White supremacists’ colonial values are still very deeply imbedded in the hearts and minds of some members of our intelligentsia. Marcus Garvey did warn us that our freedom is still in abeyance until we, ourselves, free our minds from centuries of brainwashing.
It is refreshing that like in 1970, the heroes of the day are very conscious and intelligent young men—on this occasion, from Trinity College—who stood up for what is right and just, in the face of discrimination and the utmost humiliation, disrespect, and obscene assault on their dignity, integrity and character.
I have no doubt that Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi would have been very proud of the stance these young men took. We must, however, ensure that such a fiasco is never repeated.
These young men need to be honoured appropriately. I have no doubt that the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago will do so.
Our nation awoke from its slumber when these young men opened our eyes. Incidentally, Billy Graham did advise us: “Courage is contagious. When brave men take a stand, the spines of others are often stiffened.”