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Black Teenage Softball Player Forced to Cut Braids Because They ‘Obscured Her Number’

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She said the coach of the opposing team, who is white, complained to the umpires — despite her hair barely reaching her shoulder blades.
A 16-year-old Black girl was forced to cut out her braids in the middle of a softball game b…

She said the coach of the opposing team, who is white, complained to the umpires — despite her hair barely reaching her shoulder blades.

A 16-year-old Black girl was forced to cut out her braids in the middle of a softball game because they supposedly covered her jersey number.

Nicole Pyles from North Carolina was representing her school Hillside against rivals Jordan High on April 19 when she was approached by an umpire and told to take the clear beads out of her hair — or leave the game.

"We're winning at this point. It's top of the second, we're going back out to the field... this is when it's brought up to me that they 'can't see my number,'" she told Youth Justice Project.

As pictures of the teen in action show, her knotless box braids barely reached the top of her shoulder blades, and her number 6 couldn't be more visible.

She said she immediately got upset because she had been wearing her hair like that for the last five games with no issue — and one of the same umpires had officiated at least one of those previous games.

"My team wrapped the bottom of my hair where the beads were in and at the top and stuffed into my sports bra so they couldn't move," she said — but it wasn't good enough.

"So I went out to play, and that's when the ump basically said to my coach either I take the beads out or I can't play."

"This is the second inning, going on the third, and my beads are now a problem?"

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She said the parents on her team were shocked, as again her teammates rallied around her to try make her hair more acceptable to the ump, snatching the beads out; but some were on so tight that they had to be cut off.

"My braids looked a hot mess of course after," she recalled. "I felt embarrassed and I most definitely felt disrespected. I just felt like the world was just staring at me because like why? Why me? Why anybody, for that fact?"

"I didn't serve this country for nobody's child to ever be treated that way," her father Julius told the organization, "I don't care what color you are. I don't care who you are. That whole team should have been protected."

He added: "Fix the policies for the Black children so they won't be discriminated against."

According to Youth Justice Project, it was the opposing team's coach, a white male, who initially made the complaint. But in a statement, Durham Public Schools — which covers both high schools — denied this, insisting it was the umpire's decision.

"As reflected in our school board’s unanimous resolution in support of the CROWN Act, Durham Public Schools supports our students’ right to free expression and opposes unreasonable or biased restrictions on Black women’s hairstyles," it said.

"On April 19 during a softball game against Jordan High, a Hillside High student-athlete was forced by a game official to choose to remove beads from her hair in accordance with National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) rules or not continue to participate in the contest."

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It insisted NFHS rules govern athletic competition; DPS board policies do not prohibit beads in hair.

"In its investigation of the incident, the North Carolina High School Athletic Association has since found that the incident began when the base umpire noticed the hair beads when the runner got to third base. There was no involvement by any Jordan High staff member bringing the violation to the game officials' attention."

"DPS supports our student-athletes and their right to self-expression in a manner befitting their culture, consistent with safety in training and competition. We believe the blanket ban on hair beads is culturally biased and problematic. We support our student, Nicole Pyles, and believe this rule should be amended. We frown on any rule or policy that promotes cultural insensitivity or does not reflect the ideals and principles of DPS and our employees."

Source: Full Feed | Toofab.com https://toofab.com/2021/05/14/black-teen-forced-to-cut-braids-after-opposing-softball-coach-claimed-they-obscured-her-number/

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