Manning’s School, formerly known as Manning’s High School in Savannah-la-Mar, Jamaica, has banned Chiney Bumps/Bantu Knots from being worn by its Upper Sixth Form “young ladies” in the school photo. Guidelines provided by the school for appropriateness in the school photos include the following: “Hair extensions can be worn. However, it must have a natural appearance. If worn loose it should not extend beyond shoulder length. CHINEY BUMPS/BANTU KNOTS are not allowed.”
Many students and parents have objected to the restriction, calling it discriminatory and offensive.
Alando N. Terrelonge, Minister of State and MP for St. Catherine EC, tweeted, “Telling black girls they can’t wear Chiney Bumps/Bantu Knots is discriminatory and reeks of racial prejudices steeped in self-hate! Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. Our girls must be taught to embrace all their kinks and curls! Mannings High this is not it! #Jamaica”
Other Twitter users objected as well, with one user posting, “Mannings, saying that extensions can be worn but no Chiney bumps or Bantu Knots is highly offensive and discriminatory. This has to stop and must stop now. We continue to light ourselves on fire to please a certain section of society which is pushing their ideals on us.” Another user tweeted, “I am tired of this hair police foolishness. Yes, the special mention of Bantu Knots reeks of ignorance and self-hate. Sigh!” and another commented, “Well, I knew a long time ago that some people’s colonized consciousnesses cause psychological fracture manifested in self repudiation. How do we expect girls to love and respect themselves when we reject their essence? Certainly this extends beyond hair. Think bleaching…”
For its part, Manning’s denies any discriminatory intent, stating there is a valid reason for its guidelines. According to Steve Gordon, the principal of Manning’s, the guidelines were meant to “reduce the level of difficulty in trying to fit mortarboards on some of the elaborate hairstyles that students want to wear, including Bantu knots.” Gordon said it was “unfortunate” that the information was interpreted as discrimination, noting that the school “certainly does not hold any biases against students of African descent or from any particular descent or religion.” He added that the school allows its students to wear hairstyles that are “in line” with its grooming policy and accommodates Rastafarians, Muslims, and persons of African descent. He also pointed out that one of the school’s recent head boys was a Rastafarian.
Manning’s has recently been called out for other discriminatory matters. Ahmed Reid, associate professor at City University in New York City, wrote to The Gleaner on July 5, 2021, criticizing the school for describing enslaved people as “Manning’s 14 servants.”
In 2018, Jamaica’s Ministry of Education issued a grooming policy giving schools latitude in determining hairstyle standards.