From a young age, black people, especially black women, are policed in every aspect of our lives. Society expects us to make no mistakes and behave angelically. This control then seeps its way into our schools where words like “messy”, “aggressive”, “unkempt” – and our personal favourite – “wild” are violently hurled at us. By the time we reach adulthood, we hope for our identities to be muted and our loud hair to have quietly faded into the background so we don’t face the same trauma in the workplace.
This is our harsh reality as young black students. We grew up seeing kids sent out of class because of “extreme” hairstyles, students put in isolation for defying their school’s overtly racist dress codes and feeling the frustration we experience when rushing to buy gel or sprinting for the relaxer because we don’t want to miss out on valuable learning time. We don’t need meaningless words or a hashtag that will soon be forgotten. We need active anti-racist policies in our school communities because black students have had to deal with this for far too long.