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Helene Cooper, The New York Times – National Post – Friday, 25 April 2014 (originally published 21 Apr)

Jasmine Jacobs wearing dreads

“I remember thinking, ‘What on earth am I going to do with my hair?'” former sergeant Jasmine Jacobs said when she read about the new army rules. Image: New York Times

In reaction to a new Army regulation banning numerous hairstyles — twists, dreadlocks and large cornrows — popular with black women, the 16 women of the Congressional Black Caucus have asked Mr. Hagel to overturn the regulation on behalf of the 26,700 African-American women on active duty in the Army. The regulation comes at the same time as a new Army rule banning tattoos on the face, neck, hands, fingers and lower arms of recruits.

At the root of the concern about the Army regulations, many black women said, is a lack of understanding about black hair, coupled with a norm that uses the hair of white women as its baseline. While black hair comes in all textures, much of it is deeply curly, making it difficult, unless chemically straightened, to pull back into a bun or to hang loose off the face in a neat, uniform way.

“Our hair is kinky,” said BriGette McCoy, a former Army specialist, her voice getting angrier as she spoke. “It is genetic, it is hereditary, there is nothing we can do about it. And to have someone tell you that because your hair comes out of your scalp that way, you have to go and change it, when no one else is required to change that about themselves?” . . .

. . . read complete article . . .

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