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Pretoria Girls High School – back to the pencil test

Cape Town – 29 August 2016

Pretoria Girls High School today finds itself in the midst of a social media frenzy around #stopracismpretoriagirlshigh which is now trending.

Black learners at the school are protesting ,claiming they are discriminated against by staff and management of the school due to them not being allowed to wear their hair in a natural way.Learners claim they are often harassed and told to “tidy” their hair.

In a country such as South Africa where issues such as race,skin colour and hair texture were an essential part of the system of racial discrimination,it is quite disturbing that 22 years after democracy,issues such as hair and hair styling is still such a huge part of our national narrative.

Since the days of the pencil test,during the dark days of apartheid,hair was used as a mechanism of segregation.While the pencil test may have been removed from our statute books,it has not been removed from our social psyche.Black people are still made to feel that the texture and styling of their hair needs to measure up to a Eurocentric version of beauty and acceptability.

A modern pencil test still takes place in our schools and in our corporate enviroments.A twitter user stated under the hashtag #stopracismpretoriagirlshigh,that he was offered a job on condition that he “does something about his hair”.

While the pencil test separated families and loved ones under the laws of apartheid.Policies such those at Pretoria Girls High School and many other schools across our country still separate our learners along the lines of hair texture and archaic rules of “acceptability”.

Below are screenshots from a Facebook group called “Letters From White South Africa”,with comments relating to the debacle at Pretoria Girls High.



By Wesley Fester

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