When it is neither hair nor there

If the regulations say no locks, it means no locks; otherwise A would come and say: “Mine looks good to me.”

This quotation was attributed just last week to our Acting Police Commissioner Tyrone Griffith by another section of the Press, which seems to have developed a strange obsession with hair of late.

First came an “exposé” on women who were buying Remy hair by the “bundles”, and paying between $500 and $1,000 to install the extensions –– in some cases, on a “layaway plan”. Then the focus shifted to natural hair and the glorification of women who had chosen to go with more Afrocentric styles, before the paper went off on a whole campaign that took it as far as North America to solicit the views of the Bajan Diaspora in New York on the recent position taken by new principal of Harrison College, Juanita Wade, not to allow “twist-outs” at her school.

By this time, activist David Comissiong had gotten into the “do”, highlighting all the evidence that currently abounds of “masses of black Barbadian women (young and old) who routinely straighten or ‘Europeanize’ their hair; black women who bleach their skins; black men and women who vehemently assert that they are ‘not African’, and the list goes on”.

Mr Comissiong also used the opportunity to praise the young black female students “who are resisting the denigration and devaluation of black culture and physical characteristics by wearing their hair in natural black or African hairstyles”.

What’s more, in this the United Nations-mandated International Decade For People Of African Descent, the human rights activist felt that now was as good a time as any for us in this predominantly black or African society to spend some time discussing and re-evaluating this issue, and establishing new and more appropriate Afrocentric standards.

If that is not hair-raising enough, the newspaper alluded to is currently tracking the number of officers with locks in the Royal Barbados Police Force.

Don’t get us wrong. We support wholeheartedly any legitimate attempts to have us embrace our Blackness. But, surely, considering everything else that is going on in this country at this present time, the issue of hairstyle really pales in comparison –– it is really neither “hair” nor there. In fact, we feel strongly that now is not the time to be splitting hairs, with our economy in the dumps, productivity seemingly at an all time low, and our moral compass spinning like a top.

We would all do well to focus our investigative energies on less trivial matters –– such as getting our country out of the rut which political scientist Dr George Belle rightly warns we are in.

Or how about that promise by the police chief of “zero tolerance” to rogue behaviour in the Force, which ironically comes at the same time several of his officers were said to be facing questioning in connection with drug trafficking and other illegal activities?

As prosecutor Trevor Blackman pointed out in court last week, the drug case involving Special Constable Jimmy Thorne, his younger brother Jamal Andre Throne and Ross Ryan Ashton is an “exceptionally serious” one “of “significant public concern”, given that the accused police officer was “an individual who has been placed in a position of trust by the people of this country in relation to his employment”.

All of this in a week when the Government moved to Parliament to amend the legislation such that the death penalty would no longer be mandatory, and when the embattled Speaker of Parliament remained under attack from the Opposition for not continuing to recuse himself from the chair, as a dark, ominous cloud appeared to have settled over the mace, with Mr Carrington yet to issue a satisfactory explanation for a 14-year delay in paying over funds to a legal client of his.

To borrow a phrase from our Prime Minister, it’s such “a monstrous perversion of commonsense”. In the circumstance, we cannot help but think Mr Freundel Stuart’s words were sort of misdirected and could best be applied to the failure of the Speaker to give account of his actions –– even if the Opposition has been unsuccessful to date in holding his feet to the fire in defence of the moral authority of the Speaker’s chair and indeed the whole of Parliament.

With tax returns still outstanding and so too unemployment payments, it would be more propitious for us to investigate why the NIS office is affected more than anyone else these days by computer glitches. Add the Employment Rights Tribunal matters yet outstanding, and a still waiting set of National Conservation Commission workers –– hopefully not in vain –– for hard times to end, and this ought to be enough for us to get into Dr Esther Byer’s hair instead?

In the meantime, we wait to see if there will be a 2014 Budget in 2015, and if Leroy Parris will continue to stroll freely as scores of CLICO policyholders continue to suck salt –– not our words, but June Fowler’s.

So perhaps all needs would be better served if our nation did not appear at this stage to be so superficial and twisted, and we all could zero in on a whole lot more than hairstyles.

At the end of the day, an individual choice must be made whether it matters more for a student to have a hairstyle or an education; and whether a police officer or any other worker for that matter would rather a “twist-out” or a job.

It heretofore was and yet remains as simple as that!

2 Responses to When it is neither hair nor there

  1. Tony Waterman February 4, 2015 at 3:18 am

    I Totally Disagree with the take on this Matter as it pertains to the RBPF, it seems to me that you are taking the Stance that because the country is in economic Chaos, by default the RBPF should be allowed to follow suite.
    the RBPF is the 5th oldest in the Caribbean, and has always, been knon for it’s PRIDE in the way it’s Officers appeared in Public, over the years there has been a MARKED decline in that Pride in the Uniform, and yes!!! it is time to bring that pride in the Uniform back to top grade.
    the are many reasons, especially in a country like Barbados which hosts such a wide range of International Travellers, that Police Officers who from time to time will be interacting with these travellers and with the wider Bajan Community, that they at least look profesional. which i see as a good thing for Barbados.
    I Hope that the Act. Commissioner stick to his Guns(Pardon the expression) on this one, and who don’t like it can lump it , and seek another position elsewhere.

  2. Olutoye Walrond February 11, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    So According to tony Waterman’s line of thought, since we have
    “such a wide range of International Travellers” our Police Officers must moderate their natural hair to make it more acceptable to these travellers.

    I detect the same bias in this suggestion that might very well have led to the introduction of the new rules in the first place.

    No one has the right to dictate what kind of hairstyle another should wear. To do so is to make a major intrusion another’s personal choice. The only requirement should be that styles should be neat and tidy.

    If, for example, a Police Officer’s locks are neatly done and are not obstrusive what problem could the Commissioner have with them – unless he has a personal dislike for that kind of hairstyle.

    I guess the Courts will eventually have to rule on this one.


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