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This is some bullish…

Army Grooming Standards Ban Most Natural Hairstyles

Black women enlist in the armed forces at a higher rate than any other demographic and represent a third of the U.S. armed forces but black women are not really feeling the love in return from the U.S. army, largely because of a new regulation 670-1 which hasn’t yet been made official or public, but was approved on March 6. The new rules aren’t sitting well with many enlisted black women, especially those with natural hair and there’s been a huge public outcry since slides from the Powerpoint presentation associated with the regulation leaked on March 20.

Here are some details via AJA’s The Stream blog:

Unauthorized hairstyles now include twists, dreadlocks, Afros and braids that are more than a quarter-inch thick – styles commonly worn by many African-American women. After the new measures take effect, soldiers who wear these hairstyles will have to remove them or cover them with wigs or extensions if they do not want to face administrative discipline.

Army veteran “Tonya” [name has been changed to protect identity], who has dreadlocks, spoke to The Stream about her opposition to the new rules, which she called “deliberate.”

“It’s very targeted because we all know who they’re talking about even though they never explicitly say the world ‘black’ or ‘African-American.’ We all know who typically wears these types of hairstyles and then they went as far as to include pictures of black women in the PowerPoint.”

The updates to grooming regulations were approved on March 6 by Secretary of the Army John McHugh. The Stream reached out to the Army with questions regarding the new grooming guidelines, and was referred to previous statements made by Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond F. Chandler.

“We’ve gone through a series of revisions and briefings to try to find something that’s reasonable, affordable and feasible within the Army that aligns itself with our professional responsibilities,” said Chandler’s statement.

Some soldiers have pointed to what they say are inconsistencies in how grooming rules are applied. Earlier this year, the Department of Defense released regulations allowing turbans, headscarves and beards to be worn while in uniform to ensure protection of religious freedom for service members of diverse faiths.

Definitely seems like the Army needs to reconsider this regulation and fortunately there is something we can all do about it…

A Whitehouse.gov petition has been posted calling for the Obama administration to reconsider the guidelines:

More than 30% of females serving in the military are of a race other than white. As of 2011, 36% of females in the U.S. stated that they are natural, or refrain from chemically processing their hair. Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary; however, changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair. In the proposed changes, unauthorized hairstyles include twists, both flat twists as well as two strand twists; as well as dreadlocks, which are defined as “any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair.” These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent. This policy needs to be reviewed prior to publishing to allow for neat and maintained natural hairstyles.

The petition has already amassed nearly 5,000 signatures in just ten days.

Do you agree that this regulation is discriminatory toward black women with natural hair? We can’t understand how dreadlocks would be banned but extensions would be approved — what sense does that make?

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