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Should Caribbean Governments be Involved in Hair Length?

23 Dec

Should Caribbean Governments be Involved in Hair Length?

You heard it right. The government entities are making rulings in favor and against hair length and more. But the vast disparity between countries brings this question to the forefront. Indeed, should Caribbean governments be involved in hair lengths for students in the public school system? 

Rastafarians in the Caribbean wear their hair in locks. If this ruling goes forward, those students will need to cut the dreads off. So what does that mean to the Rasta people? 

What Does it Mean to be Rastafarian? 

Simply put, Rastafarianism is a religious movement that originated in Jamaica. And while there is no official creed on record, there are two things all Rastas seem to agree upon. 

  1. The return of the black people to Africa 
  2. A specific code of behavior. 

The code, while not a documented statement, is quite clear to the communities in and around the Caribbean. They are a norm-- if you will for the people of this religious culture. However, it is not taken lightly by the members. 

These behaviors include: 

  • Wearing dreadlocks 
  • Smoking Cannabis 
  • Western Medicine rejection 
  • Exclusion of milk, pork, and shellfish. 

The Hairy Issue 

It is not essential to know what or in whom these people believe in to know that one thing stands true. The issue here is that the governments run the public school systems, and Rastafari is a religious belief. Where the two are intersecting and becoming a hairy issue is in Antigua. 

Antigua recently drafted a school hair policy stating that all hairstyles should be cut, neat, and trimmed. And, of course, this ruling flies in the face of the Rasta community and the dreadlocks they cherish. Furthermore, this problem has been identified as racial discrimination. 

Just the Rules 

So, what precisely is the rule of concern, and how will that interfere with the Rastafarian people? The ministry of education gives the following guidelines in a report by 

  1. Rules should not discriminate against students based on their hair's natural texture, length, or color.
  2. Hair should be :
  • a. Clean, free of foul odor and/or contagions. 
  • b. Neat, well-groomed and orderly presented. 
  1. Hair should not:
  • a. Pose health and/or safety risk to self or others. 
  • b. Be a distraction to the general school population. 

--Guidelines quoted from Jamaica Loop News 

On the Other Hand… 

A few months back, Anguilla began to lift such restrictions. In fact, they will no longer penalize students for dreads, cornrows, and braids. The new code in Anguilla includes the allowance of braids with rules, no spikes, and no distracting styles. And one-color hair. Of course, this is the complete opposite of Antigua. 

Do you think these rulings have a place in the government? Have the powers that be gone too far, or are they simply trying to teach self-care? 


Questions? Comments? Contact us.