Black parents from eight New Zealand schools couldn’t believe new dress code policies included a ban on “afro hair, braids and locs.”

When the community demanded that the schools back down from their blatant discrimination, five of the schools fought back even harder.

Hairstyles that are traditionally worn by Black students, the schools insisted, could not meet the “high standards and credibility that their schools have.” The idea that Black hair can’t be embraced in educational settings sends a heartbreaking message.

These schools might as well come out and say it! They believe that Black students’ appearance must conform to their tastes. And if we object? They’ll block us from advancement in the prejudiced system that they control!

Robert Sturch, principal of New Zealand’s Hastings Boys’ High School, tried to clean up his position when confronted by the backlash, saying students that didn’t like the policy were free to attend other schools.But in a country where controversial laws are being passed to bar foreigners (many of whom are Black) from wealth building opportunities like home ownership, where can Black students go to enjoy the freedom of being themselves without scrutiny and punishment?

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