Cornrows Illegal at London College

St. Gregory’s Catholic Science College has dominated cyberspace this morning coming under fire from the High Court in London for its discriminatory practices regarding the hairstyle of one young black boy who was denied admission.

More often than their contemporaries of other races, black children are denied education in some colleges for whatever reason can be quickly used within the safety of school regulations, requirements and bylaws. This one, however was particularly interesting because the reason why 13 year old “SG” was refused a place, was because he wore cornrows.
In an interview on the BBC, Rob Berkley states that the school did not properly understand what it truly means to have a diverse student body if the children are supposed to all look a certain way.
This particular story echoes what has become the continuing discussion in black circles about what is acceptable professional clothing/dress and what is considered to be beautiful. In West Africa, the agbada is the choice of many professionals and they look elegant. In Somalia men would wear macawiis, a cloth wrapped around the waist that looks elegant. In Arab countries galabiya is the choice of professional men. Indians wear Saris and Chinese wear the hanfu quite successfully. The term professional in the Western World, however, seeks to exclude what other people would call professional and use the term ethnic. As though ethnic wear or ethnic looks somehow denote something less than professional.
At, we would like to think that this issue is more than just about hair and what people of African Descent must do in order to make themselves acceptable in certain communities.
If the school’s ban was a statement that said all boys must have short hair, then everyone must be included and an exact measurement of what long and short is, must be given. If boys are allowed to wear their hair long it means that boys of African descent would have to wear protective styles or else walk around with ridiculously large Afros. If boys must have short hair, then what about the girls? Is that discriminatory or sexist in any way? What about girls of African descent who have long hair, are they allowed to have cornrows?
It is not so much about culture, but convenience. It is about understanding (for real) what each person of whatever race, must do because of their physical characteristics (more sun for people with darker skin, more sun protection for people with light skin). If we are to truly consider ourselves to be diverse, then, like Mr. Berkely said, we have to allow that each child will come looking different (within the generally understood tenets of decency).

Weigh in!