Was Alan Maloney's Request A Black Wrestler Cut His Hair Racist?

An Unsettling 90-Second Ultimatum Adds To High School Ref's History Of Racial Controversy

The only thing unsafe and unsettling about head scarves or dreadlocks is the unexplainable racist obsession of some sports officials to control them behind the black and white power hungry stripes of their uniforms.

"It was two men, a group of guys, having fun and it was just a slip-up. If you can't see past that, then I don't know what to say. I made a mistake and I apologized for it. And it was accepted."

That was the apology statement given from Alan Maloney in 2016 after using a racial slur against an African-American referee.

"You know people do make mistakes and I apologize," Maloney told the Courier Post.

As a result of using the heinous slur and being suspended, Maloney agreed to participate in sensitivity training and an alcohol awareness program.

In 2018, it was clear to see that the programs were ineffective and his apologies were shallow.

On December 19th, 2018, Alan Maloney attended a high school meet late enough to miss weigh-ins but comfortable enough to dictate a young African-American boy's life for the worse.

I'm sure Alan Maloney was "sorry" for his unpunctuality, it was just a "slip up," but it was OK because it was evident he was here to have his own authoritarian, unacceptable version of "fun."

Andrew Johnson is a 16-year-old wrestler on the Buena High School wrestling team that has never had a prior issue regarding his dreads or hair length, but on December 19th when he went to take the mat to start his match his whole life changed.

16-year-old Andrew Johnson was given an ultimatum and only 90 seconds to decide if he was going to cut his hair to a length that Alan Maloney decided fit or forfeit the match.

Johnson who seemed upset by the entire situation (clear through the body language portrayed in the video) reluctantly allows a woman to cut his hair with a pair of scissors that appeared within seconds of the ultimatum. Throughout the entire impromptu forced haircut, Alan Maloney stands by and dictates the length until he finds it agreeable. The entire video is cringeworthy and repulsive.

Since when was it a referee's choice to dictate a life anywhere outside the confounds of the mat? When did it become his jurisdiction to decide whether or not a player's dreads or personal appearance were to his liking? Why did he even care so much?

This was a referee call that reached far out of the bounds and into the realms of an obsession for power.

Shireen Ahmed a writer from the Guardian and a Muslim American athlete said, Like other situations in sports involving hair coverings or uniform accommodation, it's hard not to see this as racial discrimination. I have spent almost a decade researching and writing about inclusion in sports and unfair bans of athletes from marginalized communities, involving hijab, turbans, and braids. These policies have very little to do with "safety" and are instead a means to control the bodies of black and brown athletes.

Actions like the ones seen by Alan Maloney should not be easily excused and watered down. The act was heinous and derived from something way deeper that is seen across sports culture across the nation. I am deeply saddened by the way the situation unfolded in the gym of Buena high school but am glad that it is getting the national attention it deserves and the indignation people should feel. The video was able to capture the absurdity of the situation and the injustices Andrew Johnson had to suffer.

Dr. Amira Rose Davis, an assistant professor of history, gender and sexuality studies at Penn State University, explains that hair is often used to uphold the racial status quo in sports.

Alan Maloney robbed a 16-year-old of his identity and diminished his free will.

Crimes against marginalized athletes happen all the time and are something that should demand a lot more attention because the main argument against certain headscarves and hairstyles correlate to safety, but studies prove that there is nothing unsafe about them. Not a single person has been hurt because of their selection of hairstyle or choice of a headscarf.

Instead of asking athletes to conform to the whitewashed beauty standards of sports, officials and sports culture as a whole should be more open to the different cultures and races that make sports as incredible as they are. Sports were created to admire talent not to judge personal appearance or force conformity.

The only thing unsafe and unsettling about headscarves or dreadlocks is the unexplainable racist obsession of some sports officials to control them behind the black and white power hungry stripes of their uniforms.

It's time to diminish racism from sports by allowing marginalized athletes to represent themselves for who they are and to stop forcing them to conform to white standards.

Sorry, Mr. Maloney, but sorry probably isn't enough this time.

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