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#SansSouci learners speak out anonymously - #blackhairmatters
These are emails gathered from current learners by ex students of San Souci who are now protesting against the race and hair based victimisation of black learners at the school. The ex learners have united in support of the current learners under the banner #thetruthwewillproclaim .
Last year in Grade 11 Ms Edna Swart tormented us day in day out. She called us skilled liars, unreliable, corrupt, she'd never employ us and earlier this year she said first we had to tolerate black people and now it's your culture.
This is a very racist remark. Booysen said that bad smells are like the township. Calls us bitches and walks out of our drama class whenever she likes when she's angry. Leaving us with no education.
I remember a year ago or two years one of the SSGH teacher did a "hair test" by pulling my hair down to see if it reaches my collar. The rule apparently was if the hair strand reaches your collar you will have to tie your afro or do "something" about it.
I began in Sans Souci in 2011, the policy of hair allowed us black girls to have braids of our natural hair colour. In 2012 that radically changed without notifying our parents. To this day they use "your parents signed a contract" however the school conduct has changed. My main problem is how teachers address Black girls with huge disrespect when it comes to addressing issues such as hair and language policies. How they (teachers) stick hands in your hair and feel your scalp to make sure there are no extensions. How they ridicule our afros asking us why would we want to have a hairstyle of the 90s that seems as though we electrified. We aren't allowed to speak our mother tongue at all and claim it is a way to allow us to integrate. If they wanted integration to occur then speaking different languages would allow that. Term 3 our Maths literacy teacher resigned we had to struggle for about 2 weeks to get a teacher hence we were writing a cycle test soon. Till this day we don't have a permanent maths lit teacher but only a teacher who is there to only teach matriculants and grade 11s. This is a huge problem as I'm sure there are qualified black teachers out there who would be able to teach maths lit permanently. Another issue is the bathroom where we are allowed only 5 passes to go to the loo for the whole year. The next issue is that Sans Souci doesn't recognise that Asthma is a disorder a chronic disorder. Asthmatic students are not taken seriously when they have their attacks they are told to sit down and drink. As if that'll make anything better. In order for us to be released its either our parents fight for us or we make a huge crying commotion.
Well the experienced I lived was when they told me that I had highlights on my hair.. but my hair is naturally like that. My mom came and faught them and the worse thing is that they keep taking the teachers side.The problems that must be raised is the hair issue ( esp that they have no knowledge about our hair ), language and how the teachers treat us.
1. Language policy
The language policy at the school is racist and it targets black girls. Speaking English in class where we're being taught in English is fine and understandable. But for you to want to dictate how I express myself and articulate my feelings when I'm with my friends is not ok. I should not be forbidden from speaking the language I feel most comfortable expressing myself in. And also telling students to go to schools in townships because they want to communicate in their language where "this kind of behavior will be accepted" and "you can haibo all you want there".
Banning braids from the school was a great inconvenience for a lot of us. I used braids as a protective hairstyle so my hair wasn't exposed to chemicals every month. When braids were banned because Mrs Murray deemed them untidy and unclean she said this was going to save us money. Our parents wouldn't be spending large sums of money for us to do our hair. Bare in mind the school fees that our parents can barely afford go up each year and your biggest worry is that their spending too much money on our hair? But you don't care enough about their pockets to decrease the fees. When A student raised the point that they have eczema and so they cannot use chemicals on their hair to often so praise were necessary for them to keep their hair neat Mrs Murray dismissed that and didn't take it into consideration when she enforced the hair rules. I was also once told to flatten my hair because I was combing it too high up.
There isn't any transformation in that school in terms of teaching staff. The only poc teacher I had was my music trumpet teacher. There's a clear distinction of what jobs are set aside for which race. The teaching staff is white, grounds men are black men and the cleaning staff were coloured women. There is a great disconnect between who we are and who they want us to be to fit into their system and set standards.
I never understood how you can increase the fees every year when you see that people are struggling to pay. You increase this years price that I can't afford to a higher price that I won't be able to afford but then act surprised when my fees aren't payed in full? The budget meetings where price increases are decided are also exclusionary. Some parents do not have the means to travel all the way from work to Sans Souci and then back home to Khayelitsha,Gugulethu or Mitchell's Plain at night while using public transport. And then they have to pay higher fees but their voices and concern around fee increments were not heard.
Also the way the teachers would reprimand students and the remarks they made were quiet racist. Being called hooligans and being told to behave properly this isn't a taxi rank. There's also a very homophobic element about that school, I didn't personally experience it and the queer girls can speak on that but the general vibe especially from the teachers was that it was inappropriate behavior, people were separated during class, girls were told to walk properly like a lady should etc.
NB: THESE ARE THE SOLE VIEWS OF THE CONTRIBUTORS AND DO NOT REPRESENT THE VIEWS OF SA NEWS BLOG.
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