A 12-year Navy veteran has been discharged for refusing to cut her hair or wear a wig as demanded by officials.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jessica Sims is described as an exemplary sailor. For most of her time in the Navy, she had kept her hair in natural locks with a bun for most of the time, as did other black female sailors at her duty stations.
She applied to become a recruit division commander at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, where all prospective sailors go for initial training. Only the best sailors are considered for that billet and Sims was accepted into the program after submitting a picture that showed her hairstyle.
When she got to the base, however, she was ordered to cut her hair or wear a wig. Sims refused, saying that Navy regulations didn’t forbid her hairstyle and that she’d worn it at previous duty stations without drawing complaints. Navy regulations do prohibit “widely spaced individual hanging locks,” but Sims says her locks were narrowly spaced. Sims also said another objection, that she couldn’t wear a gas mask, was unfounded.
According to Sims and other critics, Navy regulations are biased against popular hairstyles worn by black women. “I don’t think I should be told that I have to straighten my hair in order to be within what they think the regulations are, and I don’t think I should have to cover it up with a wig,” she told Navy Times.
The Navy disagreed, and honorably discharged Sims last week.
Sims is preparing to enroll at Loyola University in Chicago where she will major in biology.
These prejudice policies must end!
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