A 16 year old powerlifter at Bruce High School in Mississippi was almost disqualified from the state championship powerlifting competition for nothing more than her unique hairstyle.
On April 1st earlier this year, Diamond Campbell had just completed a lift in her competition when a judge informed her coach that she would be disqualified if the beads in her hair were not removed. Her team mates and even her competitors all gathered around to help remove the beads so that she could continue the competition. A heartwarming photo of the event was shared 35,000 times on Facebook.
“I had to finish the lift in a way where my hair wasn’t the way that I wanted it to be. It made me feel less confident,” she said, according to NBC News. “And it stripped, like, a little bit of myself away at that point.”
While it’s nice to see a display of sportsmanship amongst high school students it’s understandable to have rules that prohibit excessive hairstyles in a powerlifting competition, one might question the abrupt enforcement of a seemingly frivolous rule.
“I tried to forget about it because it did make me feel bad,” Diamond said. “It made me feel low, like humiliated in a way.”
“I’m just a teenage girl,” she added.
Diamond Campbell is not the only child who has been singled out for her hairstyle and it has been happening in schools across the country with strict dress codes that prohibit alternative hairstyles such as braids or excessive length. The obvious elephant in the room is the fact that most of these alternative hairstyles are more prominent in black children and critics say rules like this open the door for discrimination — the Mississippi High School Activities Association has since repealed their rule on beads and will allow powerlifters to compete with beads in their hair from now on.
For this reason, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Crown Act in March on a 235-189 vote, which bans discrimination based on hair style or texture in schools and work places. The bill has yet to pass the U.S. Senate but a large minority of states have already passed their own version of the bill — the “crown” in Crown Act stands for: “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair”.
Another more consequential example of where the Crown Act would protect an individual is when Desiree Bullock moved her son from Cincinnati to East Bernard, Texas. When Desiree attempted to enroll her son in East Bernard High School, a guidance counselor told her that her son’s hair violated the school district’s male dress code. The dress code for East Bernard High prohibits any braided or twisted hair and states that boys hair may not extend below the eyebrows or tops of the ears. Desiree Bullock is now homeschooling her son due to the school system’s strict hair policy.
Supporters of the Crown Act argue that this would allow black people to wear their hair anyway they want without fear of discrimination. Desiree said that she plans to remain in Texas and expects the legislation to pass on a federal level which would allow her to enroll her son in public school without having to make any alterations to his hairstyle.
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