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Protests have erupted in Pretoria, South Africa, over new hair rules that teachers and students claim are racially charged.

A student at the all-girl school says faculty and students rallied around a 13-year-old girl who was disciplined for writing an essay on Black women suffering at the hands of “white privilege,” according to Al Jazeera.

The student was then approached by a staff member who told her her Afro was too unruly for school.

Inspired by the Black Panthers, the girls gathered in solidarity on Friday, dressed in all Black and wearing head wraps to stand against the discriminatory treatment. Security guards were present for the peaceful protest.

The rallies continued on Saturday, but this time, high security was present to intimidate the protesters.

“We were met with high risk security, people with handguns, AK47s, security dogs,” one student anonymously explains.

The current school code, established in 1902 pre-apartheid, demands hair be “brushed,” styles “conservative,” and cornrows, dreadlocks, and braids thin.

“My hair is my choice. I don’t have to put in a weave,” says one protester. “This is my natural hair.”

Provincial education minister Panyaza Lesufi interceded on behalf of the protesters Monday morning to prevent the situation from escalating.

“I really want to arrest the situation before it gets out of control,” Lesufi tells reporters.

Local human rights activist Yvonne Raphael tells the media, “Our young girls cannot be confident in a space where they are told that their hair is wrong.”

We stand in solidarity with these young women as they fight to exist as they are —naturally.

SOURCE: Al Jazeera | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Twitter

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