Barbara Lee stands up for hair of women of color

Rep. Barbara Lee is proud to report the passage of her amendment to block funding for Army regulations which ban many natural hairstyles worn by women of color.

cornrowsUpdated guidelines released in March included twists, large cornrows and dreadlocks on its list of unauthorized hairstyles. Lee’s amendment, which prohibits any money being spent to implement these guidelines, was approved by the Appropriations Committee on a voice vote Tuesday and so will be included in the Fiscal Year 2015 Defense Appropriations Bill when it goes to the floor for a vote.

“I am pleased that my amendment to stop the implementation of the Army’s new discriminatory regulations passed the appropriations committee,” Lee, D-Oakland, said in a news release. “The army’s use of words like ‘unkempt’ and ‘matted’ to describe the hairstyles of African American women are offensive stereotypes.”

Lee said that as the daughter of a veteran, she recognizes the need for uniformity in the military. “But targeting women of color with no consideration of the unique challenges they face in maintaining their natural hair is prejudiced and wrong.

“While I am pleased that the Department of Defense is reviewing the regulation, we must halt implementation until we have a more comprehensive understanding of the impact to service members of color,” she said. “With African Americans representing one-third of the women in the armed forces, the U.S. Army must ensure that any proposed guidelines and policies are fair, balanced and culturally appropriate.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • RRSenileColumnist

    BarLee has a sensible-by military standards- hairdo. Hair extensions might be a problem in combat situations

  • Elwood

    The Army can’t make you do anything, but they can sure make you wish you had.

  • sonofseawolf

    and the name of equality, non whites and women to the front!

    protect yourself at all times 14 5

  • DeathsHead Knight

    How is this equal treatment?

  • JohnW

    Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee outnumber Democrats 29 to 22. The fact that the committee passed her amendment on a voice vote suggests that the regulations went too far. Surprising given that there are quite a few African Americans in the upper ranks of the military.

  • JohnW

    When I was in the Army (69-71), a lifer E-9 NCO chewed me out for using an umbrella while walking across post in the pouring rain. There really was a rule against that. When I told my boss (an Army major) about it, he just laughed.