The UK Corner

Urban Entertainment from a British perspective

Hairstyle Influences of R&B Stars

In June of this year, a judge in the United Kingdom ruled that a school’s ban on a young boy’s cornrows was “indirect racial discrimination.” The High Court ruled against St. Gregory’s Catholic Science College, a secondary school in North London, England.

In September 2009, the Boy, known as “G,” was refused entry on his first day for breaking the strict uniform policy. It is reported that the school was concerned that some hairstyles represented the gang culture in the area. The school, which is rated as excellent by the regulator Ofsted, allegedly prefers hairstyles with a short back and sides. It apparently also bans fully shaven hair, to avoid the skinhead look associated with right wing racist groups.

R Kelly

Have stars such as R Kelly popularised cornrows for males?

The court was reportedly told that cornrows were part of G’s family tradition and that he had not cut his hair since birth. The family’s attorney, Angela Jackman, from Maxwell Gillott, said: “…St Gregory’s Catholic Science College operates a policy which does not fully comply with current equalities legislation. We believe it discriminates against boys of African heritage by disregarding a widely recognized cultural practice.”

The case caused widespread debate with some saying that all pupils should have to comply with such uniform policies to enforce discipline, and that the ban would apply in countries such as Jamaica.

Since I was a young girl, and still to this day, I have occasionally worn cornrows. However, I recall men and boys adopting the look being a more recent thing in England–hairstyles with a short back and side being more popular when I was growing up. I think the way boys wear their hair owes something to their cultural heritage dating back to Africa or the Caribbean, but it also owes something to fashion and to their cultural icons.

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