Changes in U.S. Army grooming policies are drumming up cries of racial bias, with some saying they discriminate against black women who have natural hair, Al-Jazeera America reports.
According to the news site, the Army Regulation 670-1—which has not yet been published or made official—includes tightened rules for grooming, particularly regarding how women in the service can wear their hair.
The rules now ban twists, dreadlocks, Afros and braids more than a quarter-inch thick, calling them "unauthorized." If and when the regulation is made official, the female soldiers who sport these styles will have to cover them or remove them, or face administrative discipline, Al-Jazeera notes.
"It's very targeted because we all know who they're talking about even though they never explicitly say the world 'black' or 'African-American.' We all know who typically wears these types of hairstyles and then they went as far as to include pictures of black women in the PowerPoint," a vet who only went by "Tonya"—a false name used to protect her identity—told the news site.
The uproar has been huge, launching a White House petition, which has garnered more than 4,000 signatures as of Monday at 11:30 a.m.
"More than 30% of females serving in the military are of a race other than white. As of 2011, 36% of females in the U.S. stated that they are natural, or refrain from chemically processing their hair. Females with natural hair take strides to style their natural hair in a professional manner when necessary; however, changes to AR 670-1 offer little to no options for females with natural hair," the petition reads.
"These new changes are racially biased and the lack of regard for ethnic hair is apparent. This policy needs to be reviewed prior to publishing to allow for neat and maintained natural hairstyles."
Read more at Al-Jazeera America.