A Black Wrestler Had to Cut His Dreadlocks After a White Referee’s Ruling

A black highschool wrestler with dreadlocks was compelled to make a selection: lower his hair or forfeit his match.

He was informed by a referee that his hair and the hair cowl he was carrying violated wrestling guidelines throughout a competitors on Thursday in southern New Jersey.

Andrew Johnson wished to compete. So he stood, forlorn and resigned, as he acquired a hurried, last-minute haircut whereas teammates from Buena Regional High School shouted their help. With his dreadlocks shorn, Mr. Johnson went on to win his match.

But because the video gained widespread consideration on Friday, many viewers noticed one thing else: a white official forcing a black teenager to give up a a part of his id.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Buena Regional School District said that Mr. Maloney would “no longer be permitted to officiate any contests” that involved Buena students.

Mr. Maloney did not respond to phone or email messages. Neither did several officials from the southern chapter of the New Jersey Wrestling Officials Association, of which Mr. Maloney is a member.

Mr. Johnson could also not be reached for comment. One of his parents met with school district officials to discuss the incident, the school district said in its statement.

Ron Roberts, another wrestling referee and a member of the same chapter, said that he had spoken to Mr. Maloney on Friday about what had happened and that Mr. Maloney was “just upset about the situation,” which he believed had been taken out of context.

The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, in its statement, said that it was reviewing whether Mr. Johnson violated rules by the National Federation of State High School Associations on wrestlers’ hair.

Roy Dragon, who is in charge of interpreting the rules for the state wrestling officials association, declined to comment.

According to the federation’s rule book, wrestlers’ hair must not fall below the back of a shirt collar, the earlobes or eye brows.

Wrestlers with long hair are allowed to wear a hair covering that has to be “made of solid material and nonabrasive.”

Mr. Roberts, a graduate of Buena High School who has been a wrestling official for more than 20 years, said that he visited the team last week to review the rules.

When he was there, he said, he told Mr. Johnson and another student with long hair that they would need proper hair coverings to compete.

“I told them in front of the coach,” he said. “So the awareness of the hair was brought up by myself last week.”

After the meeting, Mr. Johnson competed in the team’s first match of the season without incident. George Maxwell, the Buena wrestling coach, and the school’s athletic director, David Albertson, did not respond to requests for comment.

Mr. Roberts said that usually, before the competitions begin, there are “pre-meet” discussions between officials, coaches and wrestlers on issues like uniforms, hair, facial hair or fingernails. He did not know whether this had occurred Thursday night with Mr. Johnson.

If those violations have not been addressed by the time the wrestlers have reached the competition mat, Mr. Roberts said, athletes have 90 seconds to correct the problem.

Source link Nytimes.com

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