A bit of cultural sensitivity may be coming to Army regulations about hairstyles, as the result of complaints by black lawmakers. Reports Politico:
The Pentagon is reviewing its hairstyle regulations for black women after the Congressional Black Caucus complained the Army had unfairly singled them out in new rules on soldiers’ appearances.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel sent a letter Tuesday to caucus chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and other members assuring them that no one in the Pentagon meant to “discriminate or disparage” black women in formulating the Army’s new rules.
Replied Fudge in a statement:
“Secretary Hagel has committed to careful review of each service’s language and grooming policies to ensure both are clear of offensive language and are respectful of the diversity within our armed forces,” she wrote. “The secretary’s response affirms his commitment to ensuring all individuals are welcomed and can continue to be proud of serving within our armed forces.”
The Washington Post reports that a White House petition against the policies gathered more than 10,000 signatures.
Short bangs, extensions and wigs are authorized under the regulations, which were released in late March. The fact that black women are still left with plenty of hairstyle choices was not the point, however. As Politico reported:
What Fudge and her colleagues objected to was the way the Army’s rules described the way black women may and may not wear their hair.
“The use of words like ‘unkempt’ and ‘matted,’ when referring to traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are offensive and biased,” Fudge and her colleagues told Hagel this month. “The assumption that individuals wearing these hairstyles cannot maintain them in a way that meets the professionalism of the Army standards indicates a lack of cultural sensitivity conducive to creating a tolerant environment for minorities.”
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