Beenie Man and Bounty Killer are among several dancehall celebrities outrages by the recent court ruling paving the way for schools to ban students wearing dreadlocks.
The Jamaican entertainment fraternity—artistes, actors, media personalities, deejays—is crying foul at the recent Supreme Court ruling that schools can ban children sporting dreadlocks hairstyles from entering their doors. Citing the backward, hypocritical step taken mere hours before the island’s Emancipation celebrations, several channeled their indignation into lengthy captions that are still streaming in as the reality of this rather embarrassing situation takes hold. Taking umbrage with the message being sent and the timing, they rightly pointed out that a hefty amount of the island’s appeal comes from boasting of being the birthplace of many locked legends such as Bob Marley, Buju Banton and Koffee.
The decision did not sit well with veterans artistes Spragga Benz, Beenie Man, or Bounty Killer as well as Konshens, Agent Sasco, Kabaka Pyramid, among others. According to Jamaica’s second-highest court, five-year-old Zahara Virgo’s constitutional rights were not breached when she was denied access to the prestigious Kensington Primary School due to her dreadlocks hairstyle back in 2018. While the written judgement outlining the full rationale has not been made available as yet, social media is calling out the classism and institutionalized racism that prevails in Jamaica today.
Spragga Benz, whose 17-year-old son was allegedly killed by Jamaican police humbly but explicitly requested an intervention—“Blessed love @andrewholness… if you see this Mr PM this situation is a shame to Jamaica to say the least. Can you address this please and thanks…This is unacceptable… ALL RASTAFARI PEOPLE with and without locks must stand against this discrimination in our island… #MiShame,” Spragga said. “A modern time now and a Rasta mek Jamaica nice” Tarrus Riley lamented in a video posted to his Instagram account in response.
Claiming that the day’s celebrations were “canceled until Rasta free’, Bounty Killer militantly defended the cause in his captions and comments section. “Idiot unno tek J’cans fah. Foh. No Emancipation with Discrimination.” He also reposted a throwback interview where he was asked, “How you feel about Rasta? What Rasta mean to you?” with his response being “I love Rasta cause Rasta is some people who try to bring di culture and di heritage and we history to the people, yuh understand? Rasta is the one who came about singing about the struggle and di life dat we live and we ups and downs yuh undastand?”
Many people share a similar sentiment, noting the convenience of using the Rasta image to promote Jamaica with the reality being that no real rights exist for the people in general. The country’s Attorney General, Marlene Malahoo Forte, has declined to further comment on the Supreme Court’s decision beyond previous arguments that the school’s policy was aimed at maintaining “an acceptable level of hygiene.”
In a press release on the deeply troubling issue that’s garnered international attention, the Prime Minister says he “noted with concern the developments surrounding the case and await the written judgement to determine the basis of the ruling. He added that it is “time to review and amend the Education Act to reflect a modern and culturally inclusive position that protects our children from being barred from any educational institution on the basis of wearing locs as an ordinary hairstyle irrespective of religious reasons.”
In the absence of any meaningful address or attempt to overturn the ruling so far, Jamaican Twitter jumped in with threads and memes that made it clear they thought the decision was incredulous and unacceptable.
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Mi disgusted and disappointed but not surprised. Mi a hope seh there is no truth to dis verdict. Some retarded judge rule in favor of dis ignorant school an headmaster for not allowing this beautiful girl and her beautiful hair into their slave yard and indoctrination center. JAMAICA ON A NATIONAL LEVEL DOES NOT ACCEPT RASTAFARI AND OUR LIVITY! Me sick an tired a dis bullshit, JAMAICA IS STILL A COLONY OF BRITAIN, NOTHING MORE NOTHING LESS. Britain and the Queen still rule di DUTTY court shit-stem so doh come tell Rasta bout NO EMMANCIPATION AND NO INDEPENDENCE. Mi sick a dis place more time. Rastafari people, is either Africa we a go go or we ago build we own school dem inna dis slave country. In di short term home school ur children. I learn 50 times more on my own than my 13 years in Jamaica’s education shit-stem. Btw i was banned from Campion Jesuit College campus because of my locs, so i a talk from personal experience. We should all be ashamed a wiself #Repost @agentsasco ??? Court rules in favor of school. What are we doing in Jamaica in 2020???? So we should celebrate “Independence” in a few days when a child can’t wear her hair like this to school??? I bet perm and chemically induced curls are allowed. Incredible!!! This is a travesty and real tragedy! ?
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I've been following this since the beginning. This child is the daughter of a friend of mine I can personally attest to their hygiene (if we had to take it there) this is a voice note between the Principal (who kicked the kid out of school for wearing locks) and the mom. I can hear the pain in the Moms voice. A judge today threw out the case and basically said and listen good..THIS DISCRIMINATION IS OK. THE CHILD HAS TO LEAVE THIS PORTMORE SCHOOL CAUSE KIDS WITH LOCKS IS PRONE TO HAVE LICE. I HAVE NEVER VOTED IN MY LIFE AND I PLANNED TO BUT I CUD NEVER IN MY RIGHT MIND VOTE FOR ANYONE IN ANY PARTY WHEN THIS TYPE OF DISCRIMINATION IS POSSIBLE. I AM ASHAMED TO BE A JAMAICAN TODAY. Black lives obviously no matter a Jamaica. Oonu full a shit like crab. SHAME ON THIS SYSTEM. SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME SHAME. a bet if a did certain ppl daughter this can't happen. THIS IS THE PROBLEM OF EVERY ELECTED OFFICIAL IN THIS COUNTRY…..MI NAH VOTE FI NONE UNTIL ME SEE SOMEBODY TAKE THIS ON. A hope oonu RASTA ARTIST FIND DA STORY YAH AND JUMP PON IT CAUSE I GUESS OONU HAVE LICE TOO. @dalevirgo
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Court rules in favor of school. What are we doing in Jamaica in 2020???? So we should celebrate “Independence” in a few days when a child can’t wear her hair like this to school??? I bet perm and chemically induced curls are allowed. Incredible!!! This is a travesty and real tragedy! ?