Sunday, December 4News For London

Afro-Caribbean hair matters: A symbol of culture and identity

As we celebrate Black History Month, concerns regarding Afro-Caribbean hair discrimination in UK schools have resurfaced.

Across the country, black and mixed-race pupils have been excluded from schools for their cultural hairstyles.

Ruby Williams, who, at the age of 14, was told by The Urswick School that her Afro hair had breached the school’s appearance policy and was asked to leave the premises. Her family took legal action, resulting in an £8,500 payout by the school.

Another example is Chikayzea Flanders, who was isolated for his dreadlocks by Fulham Boys School. Legal action was also taken against the school.

According to the 2019 Hair Equality Report, 46 percent of children face school policies penalising them for Afro hair.

WestminsterWorld took to the streets of London to find out what the public thinks about Afro-Caribbean hair discrimination in UK schools. 

Londoners give us their views about discrimination against Afro-Caribbean hairstyles

Maria, a student from City University, said: “A lot of people are not educated on different hair types and textures, and because of that, they are unsure of how to maintain it.”

Chanel, a sales assistant worker from Tottenham, believes that the UK should make it illegal for schools to discriminate against Afro-Caribbean hair. She said: “Black people are not allowed to express themselves with their hair, they are restricted and excluded.”

She continued: “I do not think you should put a child’s future in jeopardy just because of the hairstyles they choose to wear.”

Jonathan, 32, said: “Hair goes beyond style. It tells the story of a person’s heritage and cultural identity.”

He added: “My hair is my identity. It is who I am. It is my power.”

Jackie Killeen, Chief Regulator at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said: “Every child deserves to be celebrated for who they are and to thrive in school without having to worry about changing their appearance to suit a potentially discriminatory policy.” 

Edited by: Rishab Shaju & Titus D’Souza