Referee's Miscall over Traditional Hairstyle Stirs Furor

By: DiversityWorking Press
Date Posted: February 07, 2016
News Source: Business Insider

In a recent sport event in Flagstaff, AZ, furor was created by a referee's miscall over the traditional hairstyle the students donned.

According to news, members of the Flagstaff High School girl basketball team were asked by the official, shortly before their game with the Phoenix's Greenway High School was to start, to remove the hair ties that secured their neat hair buns worn in the traditional Navajo style, saying these were “safety hazards.”

The hair ties were made of yarn in green and white – their school's color, and the girls were said to have styled their hair in the traditional tsiiyeel as an expression of “their team pride and Native American cultural might.”

Navajo buns are an important part of the tribe's heritage, and long hair has a significant meaning for Navajo people, reflecting the “root of thought, rain, abundance and rejuvenation of life said Jamescita Peshlakai, a staff assistant in Begaye's office, the report said. Begaye (Russell) is the president of the Navajo Nation,

The girls complied to remove their hair ties but the referee's action drew strong reactions from the school principal, Tony Cullen, and Begaye.

All's well that ends well, as the report said, after careful investigation, sports officials will not be banning the hairstyle in future. The sports association also said they have strengthened their training on cultural sensitivity.

Online commenters were divided between those defending the referee's call, stressing safety concerns over pride of heritage during sports events, while others saw no problem, nor danger with the girls' traditional hairstyle, saying it should be worn all the time. As in cases like this, there are undercurrents of cultural tensions, biases and animosity gleaned from the posted comments.

One thing is clear: developing cultural sensitivity and awareness is an essential need for people living in a multicultural society as today's ever-diversifying American society.

Read the full article at Business Insider

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