Scotland: My hair is my choice after 50 years


As the controversy over hairstyles continues to rage, MP Keith Scotland says his hairstyle came from choice after 50 years.

He was responding to a comment made by ROOTs founder Mtima Solwazi, who said, “I admire your hairstyle. There are four exits here and you should take none.”

Scotland was speaking at the launch of the AIM HIGH (Amazing, Intelligent and Motivated, Healing Inwardly and Growing Happily) school intervention project by Oral Tradition ROOTs Foundation, in collaboration with the US Embassy, on Friday.

He said as you aim high and try to achieve a good balance, you will have to make choices but choices are never simple, but complex.

“It is in the complexity that you have to weigh up all things. You have to weigh up your rights as an individual to express yourself by your hairstyle. You have to weigh up the rights of your school rules and regulations, and you have to weight up the fact that it may influence others and your actions may do so,” he said.

He also told students to use the support of their families, guardians and teachers.
"You have that support. Use it. You don’t have to go through life thinking that you are on your own.”

The AIM HIGH project is supported by a US$40,000 grant from the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL). The project seeks to address the root causes of student violence and deter gang recruitment and activity across four of the most at-risk schools in Port of Spain, Aranguez and San Juan.

Quoting the Mighty Sparrow’s famous calypso School Days are Happy Days, US Ambassador Candace Bond said, “Unlike the calypso, we have seen increased cases of bullying, cyberbullying, violence and in some instances criminal activity within schools since we returned to in-person, post-pandemic. For many students, school days are no longer happy days at all.”

She said it is for this reason that the US Embassy has partnered with the ROOTs Foundation to launch this "important and timely" project to help address many of these challenges.

“Let me assure you that the US Embassy is not involved in developing or influencing any other curriculum with the Ministry of Education. We are engaged in working with youth in at-risk communities and schools, to help the kids develop into healthy, happy  and productive adults,” she added.

Bond said the main goal of this project is to reduce the likelihood of students engaging in violence, while boosting their self-esteem and goal-setting ability. This will be done by addressing psychosocial issues, such as family and personal trauma, self-esteem and hopelessness.

“In the upcoming school year, I will be personally visiting these schools,” she said. “The US is committed to engaging with young people and offering them a wide array of opportunities such as educational, entrepreneurship, and leadership training through various scholarship programmes, workshops, and exchanges.”

ROOTs founder Solwazi said, “Our organisation places an emphasis on schools as a catalyst for social change. We create safe spaces for young people to express themselves.”

Also speaking at the launch, Port of Spain mayor Joel Martinez said the detrimental impact of violence cannot be allowed to impede the blossoming potential of youth.

“Our determination and resilience will be the driving force that propels this initiative to fruition.

"Let us harness our intellectual acumen and deploy our collective wisdom to construct a society where violence has no place in our schools.”


"Scotland: My hair is my choice after 50 years"

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