Hair… Many people have hair. There are different textures, lengths, styles, cuts, and colors. There are dreadlocks (locs), braids, cornrows, wigs, buns, straight hair, afros, curly, and the list goes on.
We all know that Caucasian hair is very different from African-American hair. So, there’s no surprise in knowing that African-American people take pride in their hair especially when it’s natural, right?
However, for some reason, it seems that a certain group of Caucasian people have a very hard time understanding the pride, time, and joy that African-American people have in their hair. Read my previous hair post here.
Well, let’s just say that this time… a wrestling referee went overboard when he demanded that a 16-year-old young man, Andrew Johnson, either cut his locs or forfeit his match. Story here.
We have a high school wrestler, Andrew Johnson. 16-year-old young man. Undefeated. Wears locs. Hair was never an issue before this match. Wore a cap to cover head per the regulations.
We have a racist referee. Past issues with racism. Past issues with people of color. Sanctioned once, but allowed to continue working as a referee.
They are in the same building. Andrew gets ready for his match. The referee told him to choose between cutting his hair or forfeiting the match. Gave him 90 seconds, 90 SECONDS, to choose.
Andrew chose to cut his hair. However, from the video, you can tell that having his hair cut in such a manner left him feeling dejected, powerless, bothered, and vulnerable.
STILL, this young man continued on and WON his match. Won for his team. Won in spite of the mental anguish and public humiliation. He won!
In the video, you can see the coach… very nonchalantly pick up Andrew’s arm in victory and drop it in the same beat. Very unprofessional display as a referee. As an adult. As a man in a professional space.
A Rant in my Spirit:
Whew! When I tell y’all that I was ANGERED by this video and story…
First, I really wondered where Andrew’s parents were during this whole ass fiasco. It was later revealed that Andrew’s mother, his Caucasian mother, was in the crowd.
Watching. Silent. There. Present. Looking.
I don’t know that she got up and did anything, but it wasn’t reported that she did until after the outrage.
Anyway, in spite of the bullisht thrown his way, Andrew pushed all of that to the side and still won his match. He compartmentalized his feelings and won b/c he was a team player.
Now, this team…
Let’s talk about how the coaches and every other adult that was in that room, who knew and understood that this was wrong, failed this young man. FAILED him!
B/c he shouldn’t have had to make such a decision. It was reported that he had a covering for his hair, but the referee still didn’t deem the covering appropriate.
This wasn’t Andrew’s first match! How was this covering appropriate last week and this week it’s not? You know the only thing that changed?
The damn referee. UGH!
Let’s talk about how important hair is to someone especially when it takes a very long time to grow out.
Let’s talk about how hair, in the Bible, is recognized as providing strength. How it’s called your crown.
Remember Samson and Delilah? How she tricked him and cut his hair causing him to lose his strength. He cried out to God to forgive him and return his strength? Remember?
Although Andrew overcame his opponent, the actions of the referee were not forgotten nor forgiven.
The mental and emotional torment remains long after this incident.
That referee should have been fired long before he and Andrew were in the same space, but he wasn’t. Eventually, following this incident, he was.
He should be fined and jailed as well, but let’s be clear, it won’t happen.
A Word of Advice:
I am still angered. I am saddened. I am upset. I am disheartened.
I hate that Andrew had to endure this pain and anguish b/c this man was a racist disguised as a referee.
He deserved someone, an adult… his mother, his coaches, his teammates, somebody to have his back.
Yet, he stood alone. A-L-O-N-E.
Like… in a room full of adults and peers. He was alone.
Nobody stood tall for him. Nobody said anything. Although the article reports that the coaches argued the ruling, still… nothing changed and Andrew still got his hair cut, against b/c he was given an unfair ultimatum.
Yes, he chose to do it but he shouldn’t have had to choose.
Honestly, this goes deeper than his hair being cut. That act alone dehumanized him. Took away his power. Took away his pride.
He was visibly upset. Visibly shaken. Visibly humiliated. Embarrassed.
My hope is that Andrew seeks some therapy to work through this and heal so that he can truly move forward b/c he deserves the best. #drewfam