Pentagon Says Army Will Review Ban On Twists, Braids And Other Natural Hairstyles

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It’s amazing that the U.S. Army didn’t realize there would be so much backlash from its banning of various hairstyles for women that tended to slant towards styles worn by women of color.  In March, the Army issued Regulation 670-1 that included rules on hair grooming. The “unauthorized styles” included natural hairstyles worn by African-American women, including twists and braids.

People were outraged, including several lawmakers who said the ban is racist. There was even a petition to the White House asking the Army to reconsider the ban. It gathered more than 10,000 signatures.

The Pentagon just announced the military would review controversial grooming policies. This came after some inside prompting. According to Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, Secretary of Defence Chuck Hagel “sent a letter to the Hill directing the deputy secretary of defense to work with the service secretaries and military chiefs to review their respective policies to address the issues raised by members of Congress about grooming standards, particularly for African American females,” reportsThe Washington Post.

Hagel took action after receiving a letter from the female members of the Congressional Black Caucus. And Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) said he is happy for the response.

“I want to thank Secretary Hagel for his thoughtful response to the concerns of Members of the Congressional Black Caucus and to many women of color currently serving in our Armed Forces. 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. Secretary Hagel also assured us that the Army’s intent with AR 670-1 was not to offend or discriminate against women of color,” she said in an issued statement. “Members of the CBC appreciate Secretary Hagel for his prompt response to our letter and for seriously considering our concerns. Secretary Hagel’s response affirms his commitment to ensuring all individuals are welcomed and can continue to be proud of serving in our Armed Forces.”

Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs, whose White House petition was signed by 16,000 supporters, is pleased as well by the call for review. Jacobs, a member of the Georgia National Guard, wears her hair in two stranded twists.

“It’s inspiring to know that the secretary of defense is getting behind something and it goes to show that the regulations are absurd when it comes to African American women,” Jacobs told WashPo. “The fact that Hagel is calling for a review means there might be a way to revise these guidelines and come to some common ground…This is empowering for women in the military.”

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