Buena High School wrestler Andrew Johnson was set to compete in the 120-pound division against Oakcrest High School in New Jersey on Thursday, when the ref decided not to allow him to wear a cover over his dreadlocks. Johnson chose to get an impromptu haircut rather than forfeit the important match.
The contest was dubbed a "Cape Atlantic League [CAL] National Conference clash," by South New Jersey News. It was spotlighted because the result would likely affect the battle for a CAL national championship. So, despite how early it came in the season, the contest was crucial, according SNJ reporter Mike Frankel, who captured the video of Johnson getting his dreadlocks cut.
After the deed was done, Johnson won his match in overtime and propelled his team to victory.
Activist and Intercept columnist Shaun King came across the story and—with a hat tip from a Twitter user who responded to the above video—shared a story by NewJersey.com claiming that the ref, Alan Maloney, also allegedly said the n-word to a fellow ref and was slammed to the ground for it last year.
King claims he's spoken to parents of high school wrestlers who say the ref in question has been a problem over the years.
This is just the latest in a string of incidents in which Americans unable to wear their hair the way they want to. A couple of years ago, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled it's legal to pass on hiring someone simply because they have dreadlocks. The Supreme Court could rule on the bias against dreadlocks, but they won't.
This year, a father sued a Florida school that banned his 6-year-old for having dreadlocks. And a set of Florida schools in an anti-bullying program have banned dreadlocks and other "progressive" hairstyles. Just this week, an employee at a Ross Dress for Less in Denver uploaded a video to WorldStar, saying a manager had told her the Bantu knots she had were forbidden.