By Crisan Evans
JAMAICANS, embrace your culture. Because if we don’t, others will and they will not just stop at embracing it, they will CLAIM it. In recent times it has been even more alarming how conservative we are becoming towards our own culture and yet open and accepting towards the culture of other countries. We discriminate against our own culture, so what do we leave outsiders to do? Our native language is looked down on and regarded as vulgar, and now our hairstyle preferences are being looked down on too. What is next?
Last Saturday, we celebrated 186 years of Emancipation and we celebrate 58 years of Independence today, Thursday, August 6, 2020. Are these incidences telling us that we have not learned anything from history? Since the 1950s, the Rastafarian community has been persecuted and prejudiced against because of their religion and hairstyle preferences, and just when we start to believe that as a country we have moved past such nonsensical behavior, 70 years later we see that nothing has changed.
Why would the High Court rule that it is okay for a school to ban students from wearing dreadlocks? Will we also be banned from speaking our native language? These are issues that we (Jamaicans) should never have to discuss and, here we are.
One can only imagine the surprise on the faces of many Jamaicans following the Supreme Court ruling – permission to ban dreadlocks in schools. What is even more eye-opening is the excuse used by the Kensington Primary School to bar a five-year-old child from participating in school – Basic Hygiene. Basic hygiene must be practiced but this is not the way to go about it. Like all hairstyles, the locks can be properly groomed to maintain proper hygiene.
An issue like this would not sit well with the public, especially those of the Rastafarian community, because this can be seen as an outright attack and/or prejudice towards their community – something that they thought they would never have to face again, at least not in their native country. They most definitely would not want to be reminded of the events of 1963 where they were hunted like dogs, humiliated, beaten, jailed, and killed – just as the state of Jamaica turned its back on them and issued a declaration to have them captured because of their hairstyle preference.
Marcus Garvey said that a country that does not know its history is like a tree without roots. Are we becoming such a country where we are abandoning our culture and history? It is time for Jamaicans to embrace their culture and make it their own. Whether or not dreadlocks should be banned should not be debated because it is a part of who we are as a country. Jamaicans, I urge you to embrace your identity.