Stop Independent schools restricting Afro-textured hair & protective styles

Stop Independent schools restricting Afro-textured hair & protective styles

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Australian private schools still enforce uniform policies that make it hard to be Black. Throughout my senior schooling years, I was continually forced to shave my natural Afro hair, and protective styles (braids, cornrows, twists, buns & dreadlocks) were banned, outlawed as “extreme hairstyles”. Erasure of African culture and identity should not be an additional cost to attending an independent school in Australia.

I am calling on education ministers in each state and territory, particularly NSW Minister of Education Sarah Mitchell, to listen during this time of Black amplification. Do the right thing, and make it illegal for schools’ uniform policies to discriminate against students' natural Afro hair.

Private school uniforms are unregulated under NSW’s Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 - SECT 17 Education. Meaning students of African Diaspora are not explicitly protected, allowing racism to exist under the disguise of grooming codes and white professionalism, in non-government schools.

These uniform policies promote inequality between students with Afro-textured hair and their peers, who are afforded many more styling options. Think gel, clay, moose, hairspray, faux hawks, faded sides, side parts, middle parts, crew cuts, undercuts. There are levels of self-expression Afro-diasporic students were, and still are, denied. 

Furthermore, it is insulting, belittling, and dehumanising for institutes to use microaggressive racist terms like “extreme”, “unorthodox”, and anything of the sort,  to describe the natural hair texture of Black students. After all, the Oxford Dictionary defines “extreme” as “the furthest away from the centre [of normal]”.

I am kindly asking you to please sign this petition, and share it. I am calling on students, current and former, to comment with any anti-black uniform policy you’ve experienced, regardless of your school being private, religious, or public. Please come forward, let our voices be heard.

This story has featured in HuffPost Australia. Click HERE to read more