Screen Shot 2014-04-30 at 11.00.07 AMThe Pentagon is reviewing its hairstyle regulations after the Congressional Black Caucus complained that the Army had unfairly targeted black women in its new rules.

Examples of the new rules included bangs that hit above the eyebrows and pony tails that center on the back of the head. Extensions and wigs are authorized as long as they conform to the standards and look like natural hair.

What caucus chair Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and her colleagues objected to was the Army’s usage of certain words.

“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 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel. “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.

Hagel replied [http://cbc.fudge.house.gov/uploads/SecrretaryHagelResponse.pdf] assuring Fudge and other members that no one in the Pentagon meant to “discriminate or disparage” black women in formulating the Army’s new rules.

“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,” Fudge wrote in response. “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.”

On Tuesday, Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters that Hagel has ordered the military services to review their appearance regulations for black women and ensure their “standards are fair and respectful to our diverse force while also meeting our requirements.”

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  • noirluv45

    This is good news. At least they are evaluating their silly procedure. Hopefully, they will come to their senses and realize that these woman are doing no harm in the way they culturally wear their hair.

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  • Vag Owner

    this is all just for show. they’ll come to the same conclusion. unless they have naturals taking part of the decision, then i don’t see how they can accurately make a decision. ppl are very ignorant about blk hair…even bm and bw. it is important for those with good knowledge of it to speak on this subject

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    • Tanielle

      Public pressure is also a good driver of change in issues like this. The DOD leadership might not know a thing about natural hair but they care about recruiting, public perception, and backlash. It really isn’t a hard change to make. After the controversy over this, the Coast Guard changed their ban on dreads because they didn’t want to get caught up in the BS. Especially since they are actively trying to recruit more minority women and change their perception of being a old boys network.

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  • Delia

    I’m glad I was in the Air Force. We still had the UCMJ and had to abide by those regs, but you can be within regs and still rock a natural do! I did and many black women with locs, twist-outs, fro’s (I think hair can’t be more than 3-4 inches from your scalp, for ANY hair style) did too. And they ALWAYS had well stocked ethnic hair section at the BX (kinda like a military walmart). The idea is being uniform with one another, and unfortunately things such as hair styles, piercings and tattoos are limited and banned when you put your right hand up and give up certain rights. I agree that words such as ‘matted’ and ‘unkempt’ need to be address though….and I believe, in my experience, there are individuals within the organization that take issue with black women’s natural hair, I did not see it as an organization wide problem as they are supposed to have ‘zero tolerance’ for those types of biased views….

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