The school and the Virgo family have been fighting this battle for the past two years.
This Friday, Jamaica’s high court said that Kensington Primary School was well within its rights to require a 5-year-old to cut off her dreadlocks before attending classes.
Kensington Primary told Sherine and Dale Virgo that their daughter would have to cut her hair for hygiene reasons.
The school, which is located just outside of Kingston, has rules that explicitly ban dreadlocks. The Ministry of Education also issued guidelines that state all hairstyles must be “neat.”
Commodification of Black bodies
It is important to acknowledge the hypocrisy of a decision to bar a student from wearing locks in a Jamaican school. Without a doubt, every school at the primary level in Jamaica celebrates Heritage day and various spin-offs. The images of Marley
— Fuzzy (@coolieduppy) August 1, 2020
Many said that the school was being discriminatory against natural hair, but the high court did not agree. People were shocked by the court’s decision, especially because dreadlocks are a strong symbol in Rastafarian culture which is common on the island.
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A group called Jamaicans for Justice, who supported the family throughout the trial, said that the girl’s freedoms and access to education were being denied by the school.
“I will not be cutting my daughter’s hair,” Sherine Virgo. “If they give me that ultimatum again, I will be moving her.”
This is a result of the problem not only in education but in our society. Kensington is the “best performing” primary school in Ja. Parents know that their children are almost guaranteed a place in a traditional high school, thereby gaining access to the road out of disadvantage
— Peta-Anne Baker (@PA13Baker) August 1, 2020
The school and the Virgo family have been fighting this battle for the past two years. Sherine and Dale Virgo’s daughter, now 7-years-old, had still attending school because an injunction was filed against the Ministry of Education while the trial was ongoing.
The current minister of education, Karl Samuda, has declined to comment.
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Because of the coronavirus pandemic, she had been home-schooled for the past few months.
“It is a most unfortunate day for Black people and for Rastafarian people in Jamaica,” said the family lawyer, Isat Buchana.
“This is an opportunity the Jamaican government and the legal system had to right these wrongs and lead the world and make a change,” Dale Virgo said. “But they have decided to keep the same system.”
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