21 March 1960 signified the death of 69 South Africans who were fighting for their freedom of existence without having to carry around pass books regulated by the Apartheid government. Today, 21 March is a public holiday in South Africa called Human rights day to commemorate the lives that fought for the existence of the basic humans rights we have today. On Human rights day, South Africans are asked to reflect on their rights, to protect theirs and others rights from violation, irrespective of race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, whether they are foreign nationals or not – human rights apply to everyone, equally.
South Africa has a unique racial past where elite institutions were reserved for white South Africans only and inferior treated was reserved for black South Africans who also made up the majority of the population. On this Human Rights day, I’d like you to reflect on your life as a natural in South Africa. Has your journey been pleasant or has it been a tough journey because of the Eurocentric beauty norms that exist within the various institutions we find ourselves in?
After 26 years of democracy we still have many black women, particularly black girls who go to schools that were previously white owned, who are made to feel less human because of coming to school in their natural hair. 26 years into democracy we still have girls feeling pressured to assimilate newly (it’s been 26 years, so it’s not so new) accessible spaces by straightening their hair.
On this Human Rights day, I urge you to think about the girls who from Pretoria Girls’ high who contributed to the natural hair movement. These girls paved the way for the future that lies ahead for young naturals in South Africa. . In as much as the activism displayed by these students was inspiring and was a glimpse into the future of the natural hair movement in South Africa, South Africa still has a numerous amount of schools that refuse to tolerate and accept black student with their natural hair. A fight against Eurocentric professionalism and beauty standards exists within us all.
Your hair was placed on your head the way it is because God knew you could handle it. You are beautiful just the way you are.