Uniform policies at several of New Zealand’s premiere schools are being slammed as “racist” and “discriminatory” for prohibiting Afros, braids and other natural hairstyles common among people of African descent.
New Zealand outlet Stuff.co.nz reports that at least eight schools across the Pacific island nation share the controversial policies, including the Auckland Grammar School, Macleans College and Hastings Boys’ High School. Professor Camille Nakhid , who teaches at the Auckland University of Technology, argued that the policies are exclusionary in nature and yet another example of “institutional racism.”
Several schools across New Zealand have policies that prohibit braids, Afros and other natural hairstyles. (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
“It excludes anyone who doesn’t fit a Eurocentric or European model,” Nakhid told the news site.
Principal Robert Sturch , who who heads the Hastings Boys’ school, denied this assertion, however, and said that prospective students who take issue with the uniform policies have the freedom to attend another school. Sturch insisted the ban on Afros hasn’t ever been a problem, but acknowledged that a prospective student once decided to go elsewhere after realizing his dreads “did not meet the standards of the school.”
Christiner Chan has spoken out against the policies, calling it “immoral” to shame Black children simply for the way their hair grows.
“It is like criminalizing a child that has no control over how his/her hair looks,” said Chan, who works with advocacy group African Communities Forum Inc. She added that youth of African descent are already surrounded by European beauty standards, and that shaming their natural hair could be damaging to their self-esteem.
According to recent census data, New Zealand’s population of African citizens is growing. In 2013, 13,464 people of African ethnicity were recorded, a significant 26 percent jump from 2006. Despite the increase, people of African descent made up less than 0.4 percent of the nation’s population by 2013.
Taffy Muyambo, whose daughter attends school in Auckland, said officials there have been “absolutely amazing” about her child’s hair. Although she’s the only African child at the school, Muyambo said school leaders have been willing to learn what works best for her 7-year-old, who typically wears her hair in braids or an Afro.
Principal of Auckland Grammar, Tim O’Connor, attributed the restrictive policies to the school’s high standards, but stopped short of addressing the rules on natural hairstyles.
“Any requests related to a young man’s religion or culture are addressed on …read more
Source:: Atlanta Black Star – News