Black Learning Achievement and Mental Health (“BLAM”) &
Black Protest Legal Support’s (“BPLS”)
“Hair for people of African descent has always been a human rights issue.”
- Hair Equality Report 2019
BLAM and BPLS are delighted to announce that Pimlico Academy has now agreed that no students will be excluded for exercising their right to protest against institutionalised racism. The students’ demands also challenged poverty, transphobia, the Eurocentric curriculum and sexual assault.
After interventions from both of our organisations, we were able to provide legal support to the students threatened with exclusion. Coupled with the immense tenacity of the students themselves, the support of their families, as well as political, public and legal pressure, we were collectively able to achieve this outcome. However, we maintain that it was shameful these students were ever threatened with exclusion in the first place.
BLAM and BPLS continue to stand with Black, Brown and Racialised pupils at Pimlico Academy, who made it their duty to fight for our rights and condemn the school’s racist uniform policy. The policy is plainly discriminatory against pupils with afro hairstyles, given it banned hairstyles that “block the view of others”. Additionally, the school had imposed measures regulating hijabs – measures which are clearly Islamophobic.
Black hair represents more than just a hairstyle: it represents personal history interlocked with generational stories, customs, and legacies. BLAM and BPLS condemn any attempt to suppress afro hair in order to appeal to the white gaze. As Maria DeLongoria stated, in defining the desired beauty aesthetic, the white majority viewed Black hair as the ‘loser’ in the game of respectability politics. Pimlico Academy’s uniform policy only sought to uphold this.
The hijab is a deeply personal expression of faith for Muslim women and girls. It is a wholly illegitimate interference with the practise of their faith to impose limits on the way hijabs should be worn or the colour of hijabs allowed (where there is no school uniform policy). This is another form of controlling Muslim students who wear the hijab and stifling their agency and independence.
Since the student-led protests, Pimlico Academy has revised the uniform policy to accommodate Black students and students wearing hijabs. We continue to stand by their actions and will continue to support them to defend their right to protest against racism.