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Hagel Promises to Reconsider ‘Discriminatory’ Military Hair Regulations

Lawmakers tell Pentagon that African-American women are targeted with "an offensive and biased perception" of ethnic hair.

by
Bridget Johnson

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May 1, 2014 - 10:10 pm
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WASHINGTON — Some legislators are going to battle with the Defense Department over Army uniform regulations they say discriminate against African-American women wearing their hair naturally.

The Army issued AR 670-1 changes in a 57-page directive in mid-March addressing male and female grooming standards, fingernails (“males may not wear nail polish”), jewelry, tattoos, and other  items for clarification.

The male standards focused on strips of hair left on otherwise shaved heads, sideburn length (no lower than the bottom of the ear opening), and how wide a regulation mustache can be (not up into the nose and not past the corners of the mouth).

The female standards clarify rules for short and medium hair length, and stipulate that the “bulk” of the hair can’t extend more than two inches from the scalp. If long hair is tied back in a bun, that can protrude a maximum of three inches from the scalp.

The photos accompanying the guidelines about unauthorized hair include an Afro as an example of hair that’s too bulky. Dreadlocks and twists are also shown as non-regulation.

Multiple braids are authorized as long as they’re uniform and “tightly interwoven to present a neat, professional, well-groomed appearance.” They can be worn loose if they meet the collar-length requirement for medium-length hair or pulled back if longer. Tight, neat cornrows are also allowed, and hair extensions are authorized if they conform to natural hair.

In early April, the women of the Congressional Black Caucus wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel calling the regulations “discriminatory rules targeting soldiers who are women of color with little regard to what is needed to maintain their natural hair.”

“African American women have often been required to meet unreasonable norms as it relates to acceptable standards of grooming in the workplace,” stated the letter, led by CBC chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio). “Understand that these standards should shift based on each community’s unique and practical needs. New cultural norms and trends naturally change, ensuring that no person feels targeted or attacked based on his or her appearance. We believe the Army’s updated rules and the way they are written fail to recognize this reality.”

“Army officials have responded to criticism of the regulation by saying it applies to all soldiers regardless of race, and that they are meant to protect their safety. However the use of words like ‘unkempt’ and ‘matted’ when referring to traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are offensive and biased. The assumption that individuals wearing these hairstyles cannot maintain them in a way that meets the professionalism of Army standards indicates a lack of cultural sensitivity conducive to creating a tolerant environment for minorities.”

The caucus women “strongly” encouraged Hagel to “reconsider the updated regulation as it relates to grooming standards and how it allows individuals from every community to feel proud and welcome to serve in our nation’s Armed Forces.”

On Tuesday, the CBC received a response from Hagel. “I want to assure you that, while none of the Army’s revised grooming and appearance policies were designed or intended to discriminate or disparage against any Service Members, I take your concerns very seriously,” the secretary wrote.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
If we want to be fair to everyone and not compromise effectiveness in the process, why not just require everyone to get a buzz cut and be done with it?

Seems simple enough.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
[http://moonbattery.com/?p=45184]

"The SEALs are being driven out, in part, by Navy leaders’ relentless social-issue focus. Not just SEALs either, although the original message, posted to US Naval Institute discussion board by a serving officer, noted that the SEALs have just had their worst retention year ever, with most of the naval special operations element’s junior officers saying no to staying in service. (Officer and enlisted first-term retention tend to show similar trends). Across the Navy’s warfare communities, two-thirds or more of qualified officers are exiting at the six-to-ten-year point, so unhappy with naval service that they leave one third to one half of a pension on the table (military pensions do not vest; there is no benefit for an officer or enlisted service member who leaves before 20 years).

The best and brightest no longer see the point of a military career when the orders are passed down from people who view America as the villain and the point of the Armed Forces is to provide liberals with a combination make-work jobs program/social engineering laboratory.

A senior officer comments, Every warrior today must question how his or her life is spent by the government. Is it to bring about an “Arab Spring” that elevates Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda for greater oppression of the Middle East? Is it to stand around in a clueless gaggle while our embassy is being overrun and our ambassador killed? Is it to be subjected unarmed to the jihad of an enemy wearing our uniform, allowed to knowingly communicate with muslim terrorists until the day he pulls the trigger on our soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar”?"
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
While we appreciate that the intent of the regulation is to ensure uniformity in our military

That's only superficially correct. Other reasons for having short, neat hair is to retain good visibility, to prevent something an enemy can grab you by, and to keep infection(s) from head wounds to a minimum.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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If you let black women then you have to let the men. Good luck keeping that mess clean for a week in a battle. Some people like to play the race card just to have power. We are talking soldier here who want to be in combat--not flowers. Soldiers should be training to be ready not fixing their hair.
















21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Last time I checked, no one is forcing these idiots to join...you want dreadlocks? Go play for the NFL or NBA...
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"the use of words like ‘unkempt’ and ‘matted’ when referring to traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are offensive and biased. "

No, they are accurate and truthful. The ghetto culture should not be permitted to take over our military.

21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do these cretins understand that a full Afro might not fit inside a helmet?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Doesn't matter. The helmet is racist then.

They expect and usually get special treatment.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
If we want to be fair to everyone and not compromise effectiveness in the process, why not just require everyone to get a buzz cut and be done with it?

Seems simple enough.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
I had very long hair almost all my life, 'til cancer took it. Part of the reason is that, when short, I have the most tangle infested rat's nest of curls imaginable. So I kept my hair length down to my but & the weight of it pulled the curl out, making it easy to get a brush through. Now my hair is growing out & at shoulder length, it is ALWAYS a tangled mess, no matter how much I brush it or how much conditioner I use. IF I was in the military, this white woman would just shave her head, because that would be the ONLY way to comply with the regs. But if I was in the military, I would know that I CHOOSE to be there. Besides, a short afro or short cornrows can look groomed, LOTS of neatly groomed african american women wear their hair this way every day. Dreadlocks are too long to fit the dress code. This is looking for a problem where none exists!!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
"This is looking for a problem where none exists!!"

This is inventing racism where none exists.

21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Long hair can be pulled up into a bun and worn that way, completely wiithin regulations. It is done all the time.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
[http://moonbattery.com/?p=45184]

"The SEALs are being driven out, in part, by Navy leaders’ relentless social-issue focus. Not just SEALs either, although the original message, posted to US Naval Institute discussion board by a serving officer, noted that the SEALs have just had their worst retention year ever, with most of the naval special operations element’s junior officers saying no to staying in service. (Officer and enlisted first-term retention tend to show similar trends). Across the Navy’s warfare communities, two-thirds or more of qualified officers are exiting at the six-to-ten-year point, so unhappy with naval service that they leave one third to one half of a pension on the table (military pensions do not vest; there is no benefit for an officer or enlisted service member who leaves before 20 years).

The best and brightest no longer see the point of a military career when the orders are passed down from people who view America as the villain and the point of the Armed Forces is to provide liberals with a combination make-work jobs program/social engineering laboratory.

A senior officer comments, Every warrior today must question how his or her life is spent by the government. Is it to bring about an “Arab Spring” that elevates Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda for greater oppression of the Middle East? Is it to stand around in a clueless gaggle while our embassy is being overrun and our ambassador killed? Is it to be subjected unarmed to the jihad of an enemy wearing our uniform, allowed to knowingly communicate with muslim terrorists until the day he pulls the trigger on our soldiers while shouting “Allahu Akbar”?"
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
C'mon, it's the "congressional black caucus", stupidity is mandatory!
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, and racism is fundamental to their very existence.

21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
While we appreciate that the intent of the regulation is to ensure uniformity in our military

That's only superficially correct. Other reasons for having short, neat hair is to retain good visibility, to prevent something an enemy can grab you by, and to keep infection(s) from head wounds to a minimum.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh dear, what is this ? Soldiers with Afros and dreadlocks ??? And openly gay ones ? What happened to the formerly proud US Army ?
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
Marxists and useful idiots are what happened.

21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
In my opinion, the United States military has been in a downward slide ever since Lincoln let the Irish in:)
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
It must be in defilade as it's sure not in enfilade.
21 weeks ago
21 weeks ago Link To Comment
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