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Stephen “Cat” Coore Weighs In On Jamaica’s Ban on Dreadlocks at School Controversy

Stephen "Cat" Coore Weighs In On Jamaica's Ban on Dreadlocks at School Controversy
Stephen “Cat” Coore

by Howard Campbell

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Third World guitarist Stephen “Cat” Coore has weighed in on the controversy in Jamaica over a seven year-old girl being prevented from attending school due to her dreadlocked hairstyle.

Last week, Jamaica’s Supreme Court ruled in favor of Kensington Primary School in Portmore (St. Catherine parish) that the student’s hairstyle violated the school’s hygiene policy, not religious grounds as stated by her parents lawyer.

That ruling, Coore argued, is ridiculous.

“Jamaica is the poster child for dreadlocks. The most famous face of all time coming out of the Caribbean is a dreadlocks. Now, you tell me, if the school decides Bob Marley musn’t come there, he musn’t go there?! This thing is flawed in a lot of ways,” Coore said.

Sherine and Dale Virgo, the child’s parents, wear dreadlocks which they say is part of their culture. But administrators at Kensington Primary state that school policy of “no braids, no beads, no locks” for students prevents the spread of insects like hair lice.

Dale and Sherine Virgo Dreadlocks Ban at School in Jamaica
Dale and Sherine Virgo with their two children, including 7-year-old ZV.

The Supreme Court ruled that the school did not violate anyone’s Constitutional rights.

The case has drawn passionate debate in Jamaica and has been covered by major media outlets in the United States such as the Washington Post.

For Coore, a Rastafarian since the 1970’s, because it is part of Jamaica’s brand, “When it comes to dreadlocks there must be an exception. It’s part of what we gave to the world.”

Coore’s father, David Coore, was a respected lawyer who helped draft Jamaica’s constitution. He was deputy prime minister of the country when his son embraced Rastafari. Another son, Ivan, was also Rastafarian.

It was common during the turbulent 1970’s for middle-class Jamaican youth to accept the Rastafarian faith. Many of them, including the country’s current opposition leader Peter Phillips, were members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Cat Coore believes if some schools prohibit the wearing of dreadlocks, there must be a level playing field.

“Then school rules must (also) apply to outrageous American practises like piercing your face,” he said.


South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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