Colombian army major made history by becoming first Black policewoman

Staff Reporter :: 110 Time View :
Update : Thursday, December 15, 2022

On a facing meeting a Colombian army major, Martha Estrada, has made history by becoming the first Black policewoman to wear her hair unstraightened while on duty, a symbolic advancement in the country’s battle against discrimination.

Colombian security forces regulations have prevented Black women from wearing their curly hair in a natural style.

But Estrada, an aide to the country’s first Black vice president, Francia Marquez, caught observers by surprise when she appeared at a promotion ceremony wearing dense curls.

“We are proud. (Black people’s hair) is a matter of birth and having to change it marks a lack of recognition of ethnic diversity and our health,” Estrada said Wednesday in an interview with Blu Radio.

It was the Ministry of Defense itself that released a handout image of Estrada receiving the rank of major, with her curls in the air and not wearing a quepis, the traditional, flat circular military cap that makes up the Colombian army uniform.

The hat is not designed “aesthetically or structurally” to be worn by Afro-Colombian women, Marquez’s office explained in a statement. Black people represent about 10 percent of Colombia’s population of 50 million.

Estrada confessed she had previously used creams with “obviously harmful chemicals” to straighten her hair in order to “comply with the regulations.”

For six years, she together with other officers requested the official uniform be modified, a bid that was only recently granted by Colombia’s first Black vice president.

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