Reconsider Army regulation barring natural hairstyles, Congressional Black Caucus women urge


McClatchy Washington Bureau

The Congressional Black Caucus’ 16 women members Friday sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, urging him to reconsider the impact of a regulation that makes natural hairstyles traditionally worn by minority women as unauthorized.

The policy, said Caucus Chairwoman Marcia Fudge, D-Ohio, “has been seen as offensive and discriminatory to many minority women serving in our Armed Forces.”

Army Col. Steven Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, promised a response.

"The (Defense) Department has received the letter from the Congressional Black Caucus, and will respond promptly and directly to them," Warren told McClatchy. "We appreciate their concerns regarding this issue."

The letter notes that Army officials have responded to criticism of the regulation by saying it applies to all soldiers regardless of race, and that the rule is meant to protect safety.

“However,” the letter pointed out, “the use of words like ‘unkempt’ and ‘matted’ when referring to traditional hairstyles worn by women of color are offensive and biased.”

Such assumptions, the letter said, suggests that those with such hairstyles cannot maintain them in a professional way. Such thinking, the letter said, “indicates a lack of cultural sensitivity conducive to creating a tolerant environment for minorities.”

       -- David Lightman and James Rosen contributed.


Read more Politics Wires stories from the Miami Herald

  • CIA director apologizes to Senate leaders

    CIA Director John Brennan apologized to Senate intelligence committee leaders after his inspector general found that CIA employees acted improperly when the CIA searched Senate computers earlier this year.

  • Witness of Syrian atrocities testifies in Congress

    Images of emaciated corpses, slashed necks and ripped-open foreheads are on display at a remarkable hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

  • More than 3,300 US inmates have sought clemency

    More than 3,300 federal inmates have applied since April to have their prison sentences cut short under a new Justice Department clemency initiative, according to data provided to The Associated Press.

Miami Herald

Join the

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category