The US Army Has Finally Lifted Its Ban On Dreadlocks
The U.S. Army will now allow servicewomen to have dreadlocks.
In a report from The New York Times, the Army announced plans to lift the ban on dreadlocks last month in a memo that focused on grooming policy changes related to religious accommodations.
The memo included text that stated that servicewomen would now be allowed to have dreadlocks as they long as they abide by the following guidelines: the strands are less than 1/8 inch wide; and the scalp grid is uniformed and neat, and, when gathered, all the hair fits into the authorized bun size of 3 1/2 inches wide by 2 inches deep.
Prior to the policy revision, the Army enacted rules that explicitly prohibited dreadlocks, twists, braids and other hairstyles common in the African-American community. Now, the Army and Navy joins the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard as military branches that have approved of the hairstyle.
“We understood there was no need to differentiate between locks, cornrows or twists as long as they all met the same dimension,” Anthony J. Moore, Sergeant Major of the Army’s office of the deputy chief of staff for personnel, said to The Northwest Guardian. “Females have been asking for a while, especially females of African-American descent, to be able to wear dreadlocks and locks because it’s easier to maintain that hairstyle.”
Still, some people that have dreadlocks are discriminated against. Several months back, a federal appeals court had ruled that banning employees form wearing their hair in dreadlocks isn’t racial profiling.
According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had dismissed a lawsuit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) against a company that refused to hire a black woman, because she wouldn’t cut her dreadlocks.
The case ultimately delved into the complexities surrounding the concept of race, especially in regards to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin and religion). Courts have interpreted this to mean discrimination based on skin color and other “immutable traits,” but it’s the latter that ultimately led to the court’s decision.