Last week, a group of brave Black girls from the Pretoria High School for Girls in Pretoria, South Africa staged a peaceful protest against the school’s administration racist policies. The school had unwritten policies that discouraged indigenous (Black) girls from not just speaking their mother tongues but also not wearing their hair in its natural state.
The school’s staff actively ‘suggested’ to Black girls at the school to chemically straighten their hair, if they came to school with an afro hair. As explained by Tiisetso Phelta last week, Black girls who kept their hair natural (afro) were told they looked untidy and did not conform to the school’s uniform.
— SkandaalZA (@SkandaalZA) August 29, 2016
They will be routinely reminded to apply chemicals in their hair, to make them straight. Girls from Afrikaans, German, or Spanish background could speak their native tongues within the school’s premises without any problem, but Black (African) girls were not allowed to speak their mother tongues.
Following the peaceful protests staged by the Black girls. The Gauteng Education MEC, Panyaza Lesufi instructed for the end of the protests and normal classes to resume at the school for all students. Lesufi also instructed the Pretoria High School administration to apologize to the parents and children for the heavy-handed manner the protest was dealt with. He also gave clear instructions that no girl who participated in that protest will be victimized.
However, about 10 Black girls who had taken part in the protest told the City Press that some of them are facing abuses from their classmates on social media. Additionally, their classes are now almost empty.
One of the Black girls said, “Some of the white girls in the hostel were told to leave because … it’s not safe for them to be there.”
A parent to one of the girls that participated in the protest, and who only identified herself as Busi to protect her child narrated what she experienced. She was outside, and a teacher from the school’s North Lodge Hostel came out and ushered some White girls who were outside to get inside into the building.
Busi said, “I asked her why only white parents were taking their children away, and she said because those parents were afraid. I asked: ‘Who are they afraid of? These kids play together!”
Apparently, Busi’s daughter has been branded as a troublemaker by the staff at the school. Busi is yet to receive any apology neither from the staff nor the school administration. She is worried about her child given the school has now put in place private security guards armed with dogs. There is also a video showing the head of the school’s governing body telling the young kids that they will be arrested.
The Black girls at the school are now calling themselves the Black Magic Movement. In correspondence to the City Press, the Black Magic Movement said their peaceful protest was necessary since their previous attempts to address the school’s administration about their plight was “consistently shut down and ignored.”
In a statement, the Black Magic Movement wrote, “The day of peaceful demonstration was responded to by us being pulled out of assembly; us being told not to congregate in groups, as we were supposedly ‘conspiring.’ This insinuates that we were being malicious and potentially inciting violence, so much so, that the school saw it necessary to have armed private security guards, with dogs, brought to school.”