Emancipation Day cancelled? Jamaicans furious at ‘systematic discrimination’ after Supreme Court Ruling

Jamaican school can ban dreadlocks, court rules - The Washington Post
Dale and Sherine Virgo with their children (Photo: Washington Post)

On the eve of Emancipation Day, Jamaica’s Supreme Court ruled that Kensington Primary School in Portmore, St Catherine could ban a five-year-old student from attending classes because of her dreadlocked hair.

According to the ruling, the school did not breach the five-year-old constitutional rights when they denied her access to the school because of her hair.

The ruling by the Supreme Court ended a two-year battle after the student was told she must cut her dreadlocks for “hygiene” reasons in order to attend the school.

It is a ruling that has drawn the ire of many Jamaicans who view it as systematic discrimination against the Rastafarian community that wears dreadlocks for religious reasons.

The irony of Rastafarian being one of the island’s primary symbols sold to the international tourist market was also highlighted.

Taking to Twitter, many people hailed the ruling as complete hypocrisy and an embarrassing question of self-identity that happened just a day before the island celebrates 186 years of freedom from enslavement.

Calls for the cancellation of Emancipation Day celebrates were loud and clear.

The parents, Dale and Sherine Virgo, who both wear dreadlocks, plan to appeal the ruling.

Sherine said she will not be cutting her now seven-year-old child’s hair and will possibly be homeschooling her.