A member of the Georgia National Guard is petitioning the White House to have the U.S. Army reconsider “racially biased” changes to regulations on grooming and uniforms.
Sgt. Jasmine Jacobs’ petition charges that Army Regulation 670-1, which was released Monday, offers “little to no options” for minority female soldiers.
The petition, which has 7,000 signatures, states: “More than 30 percent of females serving in the military are of a race other than white. […] In the proposed changes [to Army Regulation 670-1], unauthorized hairstyles include twists, both flat twists as well as two strand twists; as well as dreadlocks, which are defined as ‘any matted or locked coils or ropes of hair.’ 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.”
Sgt. Jacobs’ petition needs 100,000 signatures by April 19 for the White House to release an official comment on the matter.
“The requirement for hair grooming standards is necessary to maintain uniformity within a military population. Many hairstyles are acceptable, as long as they are neat and conservative. In addition, headgear is expected to fit snugly and comfortably, without bulging or distortion from the intended shape of the headgear and without excessive gaps.” Lt. Col. S. Justin Platt, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, told The Huffington Post.
“Unfortunately, some hairstyles do not meet this standard or others listed in AR 670-1,” he continued. “The publishing of the 2014 version helps to clarify the Department of the Army policy for proper wear and appearance of Army uniforms and insignia, as worn by officers and enlisted personnel of the Active Army and the United States (U.S.) Army Reserve, as well as by former Soldiers.”
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Sgt. Jacobs told the Army Times that she prefers to use twists in the field because the style is “easy to take care of,” The Huffington Post reported. “I’ve been in the military six years, I’ve had my hair natural four years, and it’s never been out of regulation. It’s never interfered with my head gear.”