During a high school wrestling tournament in New Jersey, USA, a black student was asked by the referee to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit the match. The young teen decided to get a quick haircut before the match, which he later won in the overtime. Now, footage of a woman trimming his dreads are going viral and has left netizens fuming online.
Before the duel started in the 120-lbs category, Buena Regional High School junior Andrew Johnson was reprimanded for the hairstyle, and the referee told the boy that he couldn’t wear dreadlocks under his cap, reported SNJ Today. Mike Frankel, the SNJ Today reporter, documented the incident and shared it online later, prompting anger and frustration on social media as the footage showed the young athlete standing visibly upset as other teammates approach him to show their support and love.
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
The referee–who TMZ identified as Alan Maloney–has a history of racist behavior. He had earlier used a racial slur towards a black man during a social gathering in 2016, TMZ reported.
Activist Shaun King, who shared the video and helped it to draw more attention, slammed the referee, calling the incident “disgusting and heartbreaking,” and said it “never should’ve been allowed.”
Disgusting and heartbreaking. A referee known for his racism, Alan Maloney (google him), made high school wrestler Andrew Johnson cut off his dreads or lose the match. They were covered and gave him no advantage. So he cut them off. He won the match. Never should’ve been allowed. pic.twitter.com/ChMXPBzHPk
— Shaun King (@shaunking) December 21, 2018
The American Civil Liberties Union’s New Jersey chapter responded by tweeting that, “This is not about hair. This is about race. How many different ways will people try to exclude Black people from public life without having to declare their bigotry?”
This is not about hair. This is about race. How many different ways will people try to exclude Black people from public life without having to declare their bigotry?
We’re so sorry this happened to you, Andrew. This was discrimination, and it’s not okay. https://t.co/DK6Efj8ct4
— ACLU of New Jersey (@ACLUNJ) December 21, 2018
After the clip went viral, Frankel, who initially documented the incident, explained on Twitter that the coaches argued with the referee for several minutes before the young player decided to cut his hair.
— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelSNJ) December 21, 2018
The incident irked many online and called the referee’s behaviour as racist and questioned under what rules and regulation was the black kid subjected to this humiliation.
horrible – and when will adults act like adults in the face of racism? https://t.co/DXaLqhvtQu
— Marie Myung-Ok Lee [이 명옥] (@MarieMyungOkLee) December 22, 2018
No, this was bullshit, and you know it. So much bad will come from this simply because this is considered Hazing, cruel and unusual punishment, public humiliation, and describes what folks have to put up with in order to make you happy and more able to keep up with! His Pride 😥 https://t.co/yvzGtN8gsP
— AyoKas GlitchABeast (@kasperthing1) December 22, 2018
The coach and referree should be fired. This is abuse. https://t.co/powQCQcXEC
— Victoria Brownworth (@VABVOX) December 22, 2018
This breaks my heart.
This kind of violation is no different than forcing Jewish women to publicly disrobe as they entered prison camps during the war, or trying to punish women for wearing the hijab. https://t.co/wdIwlgVqOJ
— danielle carey christmas ✨ (@ohdanielle) December 22, 2018
— Sarah Sinclair (@sar_sinclair) December 22, 2018
This makes me so angry. How did all the adults in the room allow this to happen? https://t.co/yvYgVVTeq8
— M M Doucette (@mags4767) December 22, 2018
I literally cried after watching this. It reminds me of the scene in the movie “The Last Samurai”.
What is going on here? So America was never great after all?? https://t.co/OY5jWpyXYE
— SnakeEyePete (@antitrump_gop) December 22, 2018
This is so f*cked up. Why are schools so against black people just keeping our natural hair? Is it that they fear which they do not know? Colonialism runs so deep in establishments that should be protecting minors and this needs to end right the f*ck now! https://t.co/KUYkVHuRo8
— Just Fez For Now (@Wonder_and_Live) December 22, 2018
this made me cry 😢 https://t.co/zXNEB9fMeg
— Grace Nichola O’Gara (@geeratchettt) December 22, 2018
This was tough to watch. If you are searching for the appropriate emotional feeling, I will help you. Imagine the ref put your child in this predicament. Cost your team the match, or have your civil rights violated? In this divided world, someone will defend the ref. @ESPN @cnn https://t.co/i7EL0wf3Zm
— James C. Tolliver (@tolliverjc) December 22, 2018
Epitome if racism & white privilege. How humiliating fod this young man. Hope ref & coach fired. Shame that their weren’t any adulfs present to stop this travesty. https://t.co/83TBcZLsi0
— Jim Schneider (@jimjayhawk) December 22, 2018
Nobody helped him. Nobody stopped this. This is disgusting. https://t.co/O2ZJkuWN2D
— Ingrid B (@ingibuck) December 22, 2018
There is NOTHING about this story that is heartwarming. There is certainly nothing any referee OR coach should want to emulate.
If having dreads is against the rules, then the coach should have known and never let his athlete get to this point. https://t.co/scUTPa5ffP
— John Amaechi OBE (@JohnAmaechi) December 22, 2018
This SAME REFEREE was suspended for calling a fellow referee the N-word…. how is he allowed to officiate any sport? I applaud the kid for having the courage to continue to compete. Being the coach… you have to stand up for your athletes… this was way more than just dreads. https://t.co/7jjfAkII9S
— Tre Flowers (@treflowers24) December 22, 2018
This is 100% accurate. If I were a teammate, I would have much preferred to take a loss (and maybe body-slammed that racist referee) before forcing my teammate to cut his dreads.
— Matt (@ThePhillyMatt) December 22, 2018
The ref should be ashamed. In the black community, hair is often tied to identity. Expressing disapproval of the hair is in many ways expressing disapproval of the person.
Don’t mold this into a feel good story of victory. It is a story of terrible discrimination. https://t.co/mbFEkaXQTP
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) December 21, 2018
This incident and this tweet are the epitome of how white supremacy culture functions:
It declares whiteness the default. Anything outside of it, like his dreads, are disposable.
Assimilating to whiteness brings reward: “a good team player.”
No, no, no. https://t.co/iBy4MKiFpA
— Brittany Packnett (@MsPackyetti) December 21, 2018
So, dude who called another referee the N-word is allowed to force a black kid — the only one in sight on the video — to cut his dreads and not one of these adults stopped it? I am speechless, and at the same time, utterly unsurprised. This is America. https://t.co/7GnoYATiil
— Ida Bae Wells (@nhannahjones) December 21, 2018
Hell of a performance by a teenage kid just publicly stripped of his identity for no reason at all. I don’t know how anyone could even try to justify the behavior or self importance of this referee. Much respect to Andrew Johnson, but extremely sorry he had to endure that. https://t.co/7rONYZmwBO
— 856 Photography (@856Photography) December 21, 2018
After the incident triggered a lot of flak online, Larry White, the executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association said in a statement that the referee would not work any more events as it investigated the issue, NJ.com reported.
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