Meet Zulaikha Patel, a 13 year old girl in South Africa who attends Pretoria High School for Girls. In our eyes, she would appear as a normal 13 year old black girl; beautiful face, small frame and big hair. Nothing extraordinary. She’s just your typical little girl.
Well, apparently Patel has had several issues with not only her peers but with administration because of her big hair. She has been bullied, suspended and sent to detention several times because of it.
Not behavior. Not attendance. Not what we would consider typical and/or “just” reasons for disciplinary action. Simply and solely because of her hair…and she has had enough.
Zulaikha Patel organized a protest with a group of young black girls, against administration at Pretoria High School for Girls, a prestigious high school in South Africa that was all white until 1990, due to their policies about hair. These girls have been told that their afros were untidy, looked exotic and needed to be tamed.
“The issue of my hair has been a thing that’s followed me my entire life, even in Primary I was told my hair is not natural, it’s exotic, my Afro was not wanted or anything like that and then the issue followed me to High School” Patel told CNN.
Due to the international attention brought on, the protests and concerns of the students, their families and the community, the school’s policy is currently being reviewed by their board of education.
Zulaikha, this is for you:
”Good hair means curls and waves
Bad hair means you look like a slave
At the turn of the century
It’s time for us to redefine who we be
You can shave it off like a South African beauty
Or get in on lock like Bob Marley
You can rock it straight like Oprah Winfrey
If it’s not what’s on your head, it’s what’s underneath”