This week a North Carolina teen was nearly barred from participating in a high school softball game because she had beaded braids in her hair. The umpires told her that she had to cut them off. Now the school district is coming to the student's defense and sounding the alarm about a national regulation about Black hair in high school sports.
A statement from Durham Public Schools reiterated their commitment to students' "right to free expression" noting that the "NFHS rules govern athletic competition," not DPS.
Durham Public Schools spokeswoman Casey Watson said in a press release, adding school board policies "do not prohibit beads in hair."
The NFHS is the National Federation of State High School Associations, a national organization that governs playing rules for high school sports in 19,500 high schools, their about page explained. Headquartered over 600 miles from the softball game, the Indiana-based organization purports to "serve its members" under the guise of "safety standards." It also calls itself the "national authority" on "defining values of education-based high school athletics."
The group doesn't clarify what someone's hair has to do with their "values." The group's board of directors is almost exclusively white with only two male Black members out of New Jersey and Mississippi. They were founded in 1920 and are classified as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a whopping $15,276,482 in revenue for 2019.
"When I came back to hit again, it was brought up that there was another issue," said sophomore Nicole Pyles, who was told to cut her braids. "That they couldn't see my number, but now it's a safety issue or a violation, whatever they want to call it."
"My team, all of my friends were cutting out some of my beads. They snatched some of the beads out of my hair," recalled Pyles. "I felt just so embarrassed and disrespected and just distraught at that point."
The NFHS hasn't released a statement on the matter or indicated any revisions to take into account Black hairstyles.
A 2018 report from Martezie Johnson in The Undefeated after a Black New Jersey wrestler was forced to cut his hair or forfeit a wrestling match, resulting in a cringe-inducing video that went viral.
Epitome of a team player ⬇️ A referee wouldn't allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover o… https://t.co/nvoqGsPbHz— Mike Frankel (@Mike Frankel) 1545328489.0
"Black hair has always been a lightning rod issue that's forced African-Americans to have to defend both their hairstyles and humanity. Whether in school, the military, police departments, award shows or the U.S. House of Representatives, black hairstyles — be it braids, twists, dreadlocks or fades — have been deemed unacceptable (or illegal) in society simply for being different," wrote Johnson.
To date, 11 states have passed laws that make discriminating against someone from their hair in schools and workplaces illegal. North Carolina isn't one of them, though a bill has been proposed. A national bill has been proposed but has yet to be approved by the U.S. Senate.
Hundreds of thousands of Americans in states led by Republican governors are expected to see drastic reductions in unemployment benefits.
"More than 1 million Americans will lose unemployment benefits early as a result of states' decisions to cut off federal aid to workers," CNBC reported Thursday. "By Thursday morning, at least 14 states, all led by Republican governors, had announced they would end their participation in pandemic-era unemployment programs."
Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah and Wyoming are the GOP states ending the benefit.
"As a result, workers will no longer get a $300 weekly supplement to benefits. Those ineligible for state-level benefits — like the long-term unemployed, self-employed and gig workers — will lose aid entirely," CNBC reported. "Some states are cutting off benefits as early as June 12 and others as late as July 3 — more than two months before their official expiration. The American Rescue Plan offers the aid to Sept. 6."
Read the full report.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is facing blowback for his continued efforts to spite the federal government and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at the expense of his own state's economic lifeline: the cruise industry in South Florida.
At the beginning of April, DeSantis signed an executive order to place a ban on vaccine passports. Even as the Norwegian Cruise Line CEO threatens to pull their ships from the Port of Miami if DeSantis does not lift the recently-passed measure, he is still refusing to do so. Because of DeSantis' order, businesses and other entities cannot require residents to show proof of vaccination.
"Businesses in Florida are prohibited from requiring patrons or customers to provide any documentation certifying COVID-19 vaccination or post-transmission recovery to gain access to, entry upon, or service from the business," the order stated.
Then, in the first week of May, he issued another executive order suspending all COVID-19 mitigation guidelines across the state. Since the United States is still in the midst of a pandemic, the orders have been deeply criticized but DeSantis does not appear to be phased by the concerns.
In fact, DeSantis argues that "If you don't let them sail from Florida, they're going to sail from the Bahamas" as he suggested that ships would only sail from Florida if the CDC abandons its guideline for vaccinations.
Now, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D) is sounding off about DeSantis' seemingly risky actions. With the completion of a new $263 million terminal specifically for the Norwegian Cruise Lines, Cava expressed concern about the double-edged sword DeSantis is swinging.
"I'm calling it a high-stakes game of chicken," Cava told The Daily Beast. "It's hard to believe that when push comes to shove, and the cruise industry has followed all the CDC guidelines, that he would stand in their way."
From both an economic and public health stance, DeSantis' ban could further hinder the state's recovery from the pandemic. There is also the concern regarding Republicans' efforts to ignore the importance of private enterprise when it does not suit their own political agenda.
According to The Daily Beast, 2019 statistics show how vital the cruise industry is to Florida's economy:
"The year before the COVID pandemic, the state accounted for 60.1 percent of all passenger embarkations in the U.S., according to an economic-impact report on the industry from Cruise Lines International Association. It channeled more than $9 billion in direct spending to the state and supported 159,000 jobs there, with total wages and salaries of $8.1 billion."
But despite the economic need for the cruise industry, DeSantis is willing to stand in the way and infringe upon cruise lines' rights to private enterprise.
"Yet DeSantis doesn't want anybody to ask who's been vaccinated," Cava said, although "companies are all willing, they think it's safe—and passengers would want it. We've vaccinated a couple of thousand crew to put the ships back in shape."
Despite the blowback, the Republican governor is pushing the blame on the CDC arguing the nation will see "'deaths from despair, deaths from people who got involved with drugs and substance abuse or suicide' because their 'livelihoods were shattered by what the CDC did.'"
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