Aubrey Zvovushe-Ramos, 9, had never run into any problems with her hairstyle during the six years she has played soccer. But last Saturday the referee told her that if she did not remove the beads from her braids, she wouldn’t be allowed to play in the game with her Sapphires teammates in Monroe, Conn., ThinkProgress reports.
“I felt she was singled out,” Aubrey’s mother, Amy Zvovushe-Ramos, said. “She’s the only African American on the team. We go to the salon for an hour and a half— it’s not as simple as ‘pull the beads out.’”
She said that although the incident could have been a misunderstanding, there is clearly a need for more diversity-sensitivity training; she realizes that maybe the referee did not understand that taking the beads out of Aubrey’s hair was not a quick fix.
According to ThinkProgress, the rules of the American Youth Soccer Organization, which Aubrey has played in since she was 3, specify that jewelry and metal and plastic hair clips are not permitted in games—but there’s no mention of beads. Zvovushe-Ramos reached out to AYSO to get some more clarification, and while the bead rule was not specified, the organization did respond, claiming that there’s “no question” that in the national office, hair beads are considered jewelry.
“It’s rough for [Aubrey]. She’s being strong, but it was definitely a difficult weekend,” said Zvovushe-Ramos. “On Saturday night she couldn’t sleep. She still wants to play soccer, but I don’t know what to do moving forward.”
Well it pains me to have to be dealing with my current situation with the #AYSO I feel it absolutely necessary to be addressed on #internationaldayofthegirl. My 9 year old daughter, who has supported and been a participant in #AYSOsoccer for 5 years was not allowed to play in her game this past #Saturday because of her hair. My daughter has worn the same hairstyle for sports for as long as she’s been playing and this is the first time it’s been an issue. Her #AfricanAmerican hair is a different texture and is treated differently than #Caucasian hair. We found a child friendly style that allows her to play sports and still be a little girl. My daughter is the real #MVP because though she was publicly humiliated, she was the epitome of sportsmanship cheering her team from the bench. My husband and I combed the handbook for rules on braided hair secured with beads and found nothing. My daughter offered to tie her hair in a tight scrunchie and was denied. I have reached out to #AYSOcoorporate and have received no response. @ayso_soccer #iamnotmyhair #soccermom #soccergirl #soccer#unselfie
Read more at ThinkProgress.