Black Aussies are sharing their Afros (and their stories) all over Instagram to mark World Afro Day, sending a strong message to policymakers in NSW in particular that Black students have every right to wear their natural hair to school.

World Afro Day was founded in London in 2017 as a way to celebrate natural Afro hair and put an end to discrimination, especially in schools. It was even endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Office from day dot.

In Australia, Sydney-based rapper JamarzOnMarz has called on people to #ProtectBlackStudents and expand anti-discrimination legislation to include hairstyles at school.

“#ProtectBlackStudents can be used by anyone to show their support, raise awareness, lobby policy makers, or bring this everyday discrimination to light,” he said.

“Australia is only now realising, firstly this type of covert discrimination occurs in schools, and secondly, how severe and traumatic these racist microaggressions are.”

View this post on Instagram

Happy #WorldAfroDay everyone!! Our hair is elegant, our hair is majestic, our hair is our POWER ✨ To celebrate today, I want to push #ProtectBlackStudents as safe platform/hashtag for Australian students and alumni to share their experiences with hair discrimination in schools. Allies, I also seriously encourage you to use the hashtag to lobby policymakers, and raise further awareness for our campaign. It is draining for us to continue proving these covert discriminations exist. It is something we have been accustomed to growing up in Australia. Fuck that, let’s eradicate these racial biases now. It’s 2020. ⁣ -⁣ Stand up today, post a photo like this, use the hashtag #ProtectBlackStudents + sign the petition! change.org/protectblackstudents⁣ -⁣ To the NSW Attorney General @speakman.mark & NSW Minister for Education @sarahmitchellmlc you are failing to #ProtectBlackStudents

A post shared by James Emmanuel (@jamarzonmarz) on

Since July, JamarzOnMarz has led the campaign to allow Black students in NSW to wear their natural hair to school, after several private schools said styles like Afros, braids and locs didn’t meet their dress codes.

To that end, he’s encouraging people to tag NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell and NSW Attorney General Mark Speakman in their posts.

After a petition to make school dress codes fall under anti-discrimination law clocked over 23,000 signatures, Mitchell has only given lip service while Speakman has been completely silent.

Now Black students (and alumni) are sharing their own stories in order to raise awareness for the issue on World Afro Day.

View this post on Instagram

Happy #WorldAfroDay ????????‍♀️ Today I am standing up with James as one of the first Australians to share my story on #ProtectBlackStudents – a safe, supportive hashtag to share our experiences with hair discrimination in Australian schools. Throughout my schooling life my hair has always been a topic of discussion, I remember the first time I had my hair done in cornrows the comments were “it feels like rope” and “omg you have split ends” – mind you I didn’t know what split ends were. – When I had my natural Afro I would get comments like “it feels like a pineapple” and “you look like a boy” … – The school yard bullying was nothing compared to the treatment I received in high school from one particular teacher about my “extreme hairstyle”. She would constantly belittle, and pick on me with comments like “you should be grateful we allow you to have that hair for school” and “I don’t understand why you even do that to your hair it’s looks atrocious, it’s very extreme why can’t you just wear it like the other girls” regardless of me trying to explain why my hair is in braids. – To this day I freak out about wearing my hair natural because I am afraid of the comments I will receive or the patronisation. It’s exhausting and unfair that Black girls are still fighting for their natural beauty! – To the NSW Attorney General @speakman.mark & NSW Minister for Education @sarahmitchell.mlc, it is time for you to #ProtectBlackStudents from racist uniform policies and grooming codes by amending our anti-discrimination laws to make the rights of culturally diverse students more clear. – Please sign the petition via change.org/protectblackstudents

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Other non-Black Aussies are also being encouraged to show their support as allies by making their own posts to help raise awareness.

Peep the hashtag on Insta here, and sign the petition here.