A video is circulating widely on Thursday of a wrestling referee who forced a Black high school wrestler for Buena Regional High School in New Jersey to either cut off his dreadlocks or lose the match, during a dual meet against Oakcrest, according to a report by SNJ Today News.
Looking dejected in the video, Andrew Johnson took one for the team and allowed a white gloved woman to cut off his hair after ref Alan Maloney gave Johnson the ultimatum.
The video has sparked outrage online after being posted on Twitter by Mike Frankel of SNJ Today News, with many suggesting that Maloney, who is white, has exhibited racist behavior in the past and calling for his immediate removal.
In the story, Frankel noted that Johnson could have wrapped his hair as many players do with longer hair.
Activist Shaun King posted on Facebook that Maloney has a history of being racist citing a report written in The Courier Post in 2016 that reported Maloney poked a Black wrestler in the chest and called him a n*gger. Another official who is Black allegedly slammed Maloney to the ground over the remark.
Maloney apologized after that 2016 incident and he had been ordered by the organization that oversees high school wrestling in New Jersey to complete a sensitivity training class.
In this latest incident, King stated that Maloney told Johnson to either cut his hair or forfeit and lose this very important match. Johnson went on to win the match but the video clearly shows that he is upset and in distress, even as his teammates applaud him for the win.
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
Black people, especially women, have often had to bend to the whims of their white counterparts when it concerns their hair in professional settings. Last September, Corallys Ortiz, a meteorologist and TV reporter at WBBJ 7 in Jackson, TN, decided that instead of her usual straight-haired look, she would wear her natural curls on TV.
“I’ve been giving my hair a bit of a break from this heat and humidity and not having to straighten it so often. This is only my second round wearing it the 10 months I’ve been in Tennessee,” Ortiz wrote in a Facebook post.
Ortiz, who is of Puerto Rican and Dominican descent, initially received a lot of positive feedback from viewers who appreciated her natural look. Then, she received a voicemail at the station which blasted her for simply being herself.
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And earlier this year a six-year-old dressed impeccably in his uniform for his first day of school, but was turned away at the door of a Florida Christian School and told he couldn’t attend because his dreadlocks didn’t fit the dress code.
New Jersey recently became the first state in the mid-Atlantic to offer girls wrestling as an official varsity sport. We can expect to see more Jersey girls wrestling with long hair, but how many of them will be asked to cut it?