Burning Spear News
#BlackGirlsWrapWednesday: A campaign against anti-African school dress code policies spreads like wildfire!
African Students at Gibbs high school stand up to anti-African dress code wearing colorful headwraps and dashikis
ST.PETERSBURG, FL––About two weeks ago, African students were threatened by school administration at Gibbs High School as an attack was placed on African culture.
My friend Jelani was walking through the school halls at when a school administrator and a resource (police) officer stopped her and ordered that she removed her African headwrap.
Puzzled, Jelani asked why, to which they responded that her African headwrap was a violation of the school dress code.
The presence of the police officer intimidated Jelani, so she followed the order and went to bathroom to take her headwrap off. She then called the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) to inform them of the incident, to which they told her to stay strong and put her headwrap back on.
Jelani crossed paths with the administrator again, this time the administrator had more school officials with her. They proceeded to harass Jelani once again with orders to remove her African headwrap. They even threatened her by telling her that she “doesn't want to take this too far.”
My friend Jelani told me of the incident later that day. I decided that I would attend school the next day also wearing my headwrap to support her and stand up to this anti-African dress code policy.
I was confronted with the same problems.
The same administrator stopped me on my way to lunch and confronted me about my headwrap, she said much of the same things she said to my friend the day before.
That weekend I met with the President of ANWO and we decided that we were going to hold a demonstration on the Gibbs High School campus the upcoming Wednesday.
We decided that the administration’s attack on African girls and our African culture would not be tolerated!
We rallied other African students of Gibbs High as we handed out fliers and urged them to come to school wearing their dashikis and headwraps.
Just about every student I talked to fully united that this was an anti-African policy and agreed to support and participate in the demonstration.
On top of that, everyone was super excited to have a day to just be African and display our African cultural attire.
#BlackGirlsWrapWednesday: A campaign to defend African culture
Wednesday came and I was pleasantly surprised to see 60 to 80 other black students in headwraps and dashikis and in full unity with the struggle of African women and African culture.
Students expressed their joy and excitement, especially for the prospect of an ANWO chapter being created on our campus.
Many African girls told me that they felt like they finally had a voice. Even African boys were supportive and some even came with their heads wrapped too.
I spent most of the day in the bathroom giving out headwraps to girls who didn't have them but wanted to participate. I wrapped their heads in beautiful styles while giving them a political explanation as to why this protest was critical.
I wanted to make it clear to them that this isn't just about me or my friend or even one headwrap. This is an attack on African women and African culture and this is a struggle bigger than us that's being waged all around the globe.
The school administration, unlike the African students, was very upset. The school’s principal called students into his office and demanded that students called their parents and ask for permission to wear the headwraps or remove them.
The students firmly rejected those options, however, and told the principal and other administrative staff that we don't need permission to celebrate our culture.
African students as well as African men and women started a hashtag on social media––#BlackGirlsWrapWednesday––and posted photos of themselves wearing headwraps, dashikis and other African cultural wear.
We demand Black Community Control of the Schools!
The following Wednesday we were back at it again! This time, however, while my peers were protesting on campus by wearing their wraps and dashikis, I was at a meeting with the school board members, principal and other city leaders to raise this issue.
In my address to the school board, I demanded Black Community Control of schools and the police and demanded the immediate removal of this anti-African policy. I also made the demand that African students be allowed to build an ANWO chapter on our school campus.
The Gibb’s High School principal and one board member tried to counter my demands and statement, but had extremely poor excuses in defense of this discriminatory policy.
They stated that this policy protects students from gang violence and that if we want to wear our headwraps we just need to compromise and ask permission from all of our parents.
The principal and board member’s position on the matter was rejected by the rest of the board who saluted me for bringing this struggle to them.
This fight is not over, however, as the policy is still in full effect. We will be working to broaden the campaign to other school campuses next Wednesday.
#Blackgirlswrapwednesday is spreading as more and more people express their solidarity with the African students at Gibbs High and ANWO. News outlets like .Mic have even followed this story, and social media users are showing their outrage about this attack on African culture.
We are clear that a united black people can not be defeated and won't stop until our demands are met!
Defend African Culture on School Campuses!