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The Boston Globe



Cornrows have Army twisted in knots

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has seen many rows of corn in his native Nebraska, but perhaps not enough cornrows. The Army has new hairstyle restrictions that black female soldiers say unfairly target them, prompting the 16 women of the Congressional Black Caucus to demand that Hagel reconsider the regulations. He should.

In updating a prior ban on dreadlocks, the new rules now also ban braids or cornrows “that are unkempt or matted.” The word “unkempt” struck some black women as insensitive to people with coarse hair, and the new definition of acceptable cornrows does sound patronizing: Cornrows now must be tightly rolled, allow no more than one-eighth of an inch of scalp between the rows, and “must start at the front of head and continue in one direction in a straight line and end at a consistent location of the head.”

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