An outrage has broken out online after a young black wrestler was forced to cut his dreadlocks before competing in a match in an incident that has raised questions about whether race was involved in the controversial decision by the referee.
According to SNJ Today, Buena High School wrestler Andrew Johnson, who is black, was told by a white referee that he would have to cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit his Wednesday’s match with his opponent from Oakcrest High School.
The publication reported that Johnson and his coaches initially protested the decision before the wrestler ultimately agreed to the quick haircut in a video posted by SNJ which has gone viral.
According to the report, Johnson had intended to cover his dreadlocks with a hair cap, as is permitted by national and state rules, but was not allowed to do so.
The referee has been identified as the same person who in 2016 offered to go through sensitivity training and an alcohol awareness program after he reportedly used the N-word toward another official, according to the Cherry Hill (N.J.) Courier-Post.
In a statement released by Larry White, the executive director of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, he said the association will recommend that the “referee in question not be assigned to any event until this matter has been reviewed more thoroughly in order to avoid potential distractions for the competing wrestlers.”
Watch the video below and tell us what you think.
Epitome of a team player ⬇️
A referee wouldn’t allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win. pic.twitter.com/f6JidKNKoI
— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelSNJ) December 20, 2018