Military Ban on Nappy Hair

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Military Ban on Nappy Hair

African American female servicemembers comprise the highest percentage of women in the military.  And with these sister servicewomen enlisting in the military at higher rates than their white, Asian and Latina sisters to serve and die for our country, the last thing the military should be squawking about is our hair. In March the Army released an updated policy on appearance and grooming, titled "AR 670-1," limiting or banning hairstyles—braids, twists, cornrows, and dreadlocks—inimitable to African American women.

The Congressional Black Caucus outraged sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel stating " that the Army policy’s language was 'offensive' and 'biased.'" In 2007, Imus who has always been an equal opportunity offender with his no-holds-barred humor has assailed broad demographics of the American public, from heads of states to homeless citizens. When Imus ridiculed the Rutgers women’s basketball team he hurled a gender specific racial invective about black women's hair that struck a raw nerve in the African American community.

He ridiculed the Rutgers women’s basketball team by not only calling them “hos,” but by also calling them “nappy-headed” ones. The other n-word in the African American community.

In 2010 Gabrielle Christina Victoria "Gabby" Douglas was one of that year's Olympic darlings. As a member of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics team, Gabby is the first African American gymnast and women of color, in Olympic history, to win gold medals in the individual all-around and team competitions at the same Olympics.  When she won the gold the blogosphere blew up expectedly with a torrent of congratulations. But the blogosphere blew up unexpectedly with a deluge of condemnations, too.  Douglas's hair had been the topic of a ton of e-chatter since she stepped onto the Olympic world stage. If Douglas wasn't privy to what the condemnations was about it, she quickly learned; and it lay at one of the roots of the universal denigration of black beauty—our hair.

This issue of black women's hair texture is inescapable and continues to dog us women all throughout the African continent and African diaspora—young and old. When a tsunami of criticisms pored in about Gabby’s over-gelled and under-tamed ponytail, and—yes, that very touchy subject for African American women—her nappy edges, it dredges up and fosters the misperception of how could any put-together and accomplished black woman with fleecy wooly wild hair be happy being nappy.

While many sisters today might use