Hair has more than aesthetic value in various contexts thus it is imperative for academic and social institutions such as schools to comprehend this. Thomas (2013) writes on how “Black women’s hair goes far beyond mere sprucing up and aesthetics, with its history of deep roots in slavery and its politics that change many people’s viewpoints” she argues that “it’s a marker of femininity that can influence how the global society embraces the black woman in both political and social circles.”
Black African learners at Pretoria Girls High School attracted international attention for protesting against institutional racism at the school. The students were responding to the school’s implementation of its policy on hairstyles. There are factors that schools and other social institutions needs to consider when developing a hair, language or any other policy that affects the identity of a people; this can be achieved by analysis based on the group dynamics perspective as an example or any pro appropriation and coherence perspective.
Forsyth and Burnette (2010) argue that the inclination to interact and socialise with others is possibly one significant characteristic of humans. They maintain that “People are in many respects individuals seeking their personal, private objectives, yet they are also members of social collectives that bind members to one another”. The manner in which interaction takes place in group influences members of the group and society at large. For example, how racial stereotypes are maintained in schools is something that is bound to influence the perspectives of learners on various societal issues in the external environment.
Schools should, by their nature, enable individuals to achieve self-determination through encouraging and developing ones means of self-identification and confidence within the group. Forsyth and Burnette (2010) suggest that “by joining with others in groups, members satisfy not only their need for self-worth but also their need for belonging, information, control, and identity.” The changing aspects of the Relationship-Interaction which is what group members do to appeal to and influence emotional and interpersonal ties inside the group are significant in a school that should foster racial equality both in the practical and representative sense to avoid results of isolation such as the public outcry as witnessed in the Pretoria high school for girls. The Task-Interaction which is what a group does in pursuit of group tasks or goals is important for the success of the school as a social institution. The tasks of the school and its goals ultimately affect the logic of what enables and constrains what is possible in social life. Interdependence as a characteristic of a group is described as “The state of being dependent to some degree on other people, as when one’s outcomes, actions, thoughts, feelings, and experiences are determined in whole or in part by others”
It is imperative that the school realise that the learner’s identity is one of the most important part of their experience within a group because its acknowledgement indicates if they are accepted into a group. A feeling of acceptance into a group affects ones participation and expression of common practices and traditions of the group.
Cohesiveness is the strength of the relationships linking the members to one another and to the group itself. In this case Black learners evidently feel as a group that is detached from a group which is the school. They feel that their hair which forms part of their identity is being taken away from them and therefore isolating and confining them to people who only look like them. Cohesiveness is one factor that attracts other people to the group and encourages compliance, when members of the group or potential members of the group feel isolated the group in trouble (Anwar, 2016:105-108).
Part 2 here