The latest news of policing Black hair comes from Buena Regional High School where a White referee forced a Black high school wrestler to cut off his dreadlocks in order to compete in his regional match.
We’re not talking about being sent home and having his hair cut by a professional or in private. Nope. Referee Alan Maloney started the clock on Andrew Johnson’s match and said if he didn’t cut his hair right then, he would forfeit. One of Johnson’s team personnel then cut his hair with some jenky-looking metal scissors for a jenky-ass haircut in front of the entire gymnasium so that he could play. Ridiculous.
The state’s high school wrestling policy requires “hair in its natural state [that] is longer than allowed by rule” to “be contained in a legal hair cover.” Johnson had a hair cover, but the ref claimed it wasn’t “legal.” What made Johnson’s hair cover this day different than his previous matches?
“I’ve been doing this 11 years and this is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this,” Absegami Athletic Director and Cape-Atlantic League President Steve Fortis told the Press of Atlantic City.
“We’ve had kids on our team who had to shave or cut their fingernails before matches, but they go back (to the locker room) and do it. We’ve also had kids with long hair, and we tell them beforehand that you have to get your hair cut before you can wrestle.”
While SNJ Today commended Johnson for being the “epitome of a team player,” for cutting his hair and whooping the other team’s ass, the video has stirred up national controversy and an investigation by the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights.
Epitome of a team player ⬇️
A referee wouldn't allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win. pic.twitter.com/f6JidKNKoI
— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelSNJ) December 20, 2018
To make matters worse, Maloney is on record for previous racist behavior. In 2016, the ref used a racial slur toward a Black colleague and was required to attend sensitivity training and an alcohol awareness program. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has recommended that Maloney not be assigned “to any event until this matter has been reviewed more thoroughly in order to avoid potential distractions for the competing wrestlers.”
Black Twitter also came out against the ref putting Johnson in the situation and questioned why the team’s coach didn’t defend Johnson.
“This is despicably racist and that this kid was forced to cut his dreadlocks on the spot says more about the institution that would force such a rule,” tweeted @DKuzNY.