Rastafarian Traditional Tam Banned from School

Rastafarian Traditional Tam Banned from School

Katy Winter’s article “Rastafarian boy, 11, banned from school for wearing traditional knitted woolly ‘tam’ hat,” The Daily Mail, 20 September 2012 (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2206000/Rastafarian-boy-11-banned-school-wearing-traditional-knitted-wooly-tam-hat-breaches-uniform-rules.html), touches on the story of a young boy who was accused of breaching his schools uniform code by wearing his traditional Rastafarian knitted tam hat. The school stated that until his mother could provide proof that the boy’s tam is in fact a religious requirement he would not be allowed to wear it at school. In response to this the boy’s mother has pulled him from the school on the grounds that she was strongly against the headmaster’s request to provide proof of the religious garment. She felt that since Muslim students were allowed to wear their turbans, and Christian students their crosses, without penalty her son should be permitted to freely wear his tam.

Rastafarianism first emerged in the country of Jamaica in the mid 1930’s. Although the Rastafari movement is labeled as a religion, many Rastas (members of the new religion) refer to it as a “way of life”. The movement is most commonly referred to as Rastafarianism but Rastas view this term as disrespectful because of its ending in “ism”. They associate anything ending in “ism” and “ian” as part of the Babylon, which their religion rejects. The Babylon is more or less anything to do with the Western, or white society and the are opposed to it because “the whites” are the ones who exploited their ancestors. Rastas adhere worship to Haile Selassie I, the former Emperor of Ethiopia, as they saw him as the incarnated Jah, their God. The rastacap, also known as a tam, is worn by mainly Rasta men so they can conceal and tuck away their dreadlocks. Others wear them for religious purposes.

In my personal opinion I can see why the boy’s school would request proof of the tam’s religious purpose. Many people do see Rastafarianism as a lifestyle and not as a religion, due to how it is viewed and portrayed in pop culture. Also, not all Rastas wear the tam and some do only has a method of tucking away their dreadlocks. These factors could be a few of the reasons the headmaster requested proof. This being said I still do not think it is fair or right to tell someone what they can and cannot wear when it comes to what they believe in. The boy’s kitted hat is not offending or harming any of the other students or faculty at the school, the same way a Muslim’s turban causes no threat to anyone else.

AJC #341 #uwreligions #Religion

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