Operation Black Hair

  • Aired:  07/17/14
  •  | Views: 208,851

Jessica Williams investigates an Army regulation that discriminates against black servicewomen and their hairstyles. (5:57)

>> Jon: WELCOME BACK.

AS I MENTIONED EARLIER, I AMRANDY WEBER...

[LAUGHTER]YOU KNOW, THE STRENGTH OF OUR

MILITARY IS THE BRAVE MEN ANDWOMEN WHO SERVE IN IT.

THOSE WHO ARE WILLING TO MAKETHE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE TO DEFEND

THEIR COUNTRY, AND BLACK WOMENHAVE HAIR.

NOW, THOSE TWO THINGS MAY NOTSEEM CONNECTED TO YOU, BUT

JESSICA WILLIAMS EXPLAINS.

>> THE U.S. ARMY RECENTLYRELEASED A NEW SET OF UNIFORM

REGULATIONS, AR670-1, WHICH,AMONG OTHER THINGS, LIMIT

OPTIONS FOR BLACK WOMEN'SHAIRSTYLES, PROMPTING ONE BLACK

SERVICE WOMAN TO RESPOND, OH,NO, THEY DIDN'T, IN THE FORM OF

A WHITEHOUSE.GOV PETITION WHICHRECEIVED OVER 17,000 SIGNATURES.

SERGEANT JASMINE JACOBS.

>> THE NEW REGULATIONS AREBASICALLY STATING THAT THE

CURRENT HAIRSTYLES FOR BLACKFEMALES ARE NOW UNAUTHORIZED,

SUCH AS TWO-STRAND TWIST, NEATLYKEPT DREADLOCKS, FLAT TWIST AND

BASICALLY ALMOST ANY NATURALHAIRSTYLE.

>> WHOA, WHOA, WHOA.

OKAY. OKAY. WAIT.

WE'RE THROWING AROUND A LOT OFWORDS HERE.

LET'S TAKE A SECOND AND LET THEWHITE PEOPLE CATCH UP.

[LAUGHTER]

OKAY. YOU KNOW WHAT, THEY'RENEVER GOING TO CATCH UP.

WHITE PEOPLE, THESE ARE THEHAIRSTYLES THE ARMY HAS BANNED.

>> TWO-STRAND TWIST.

>> TWISTS ARE JUST TWISTED HAIR.

>> NEATLY KEPT DREADLOCKS.

>> THAT'S WHEN BLACK HAIR LOCKSTOGETHER.

>> BASICALLY ALMOST ANY NATURALHAIRSTYLE.

>> NATURAL MEANS HOW OUR HAIRNATURALLY GROWS, CRAZY, RIGHT?

AND THESE ARE THE INCREDIBLYDIFFICULT HAIRSTYLES THE ARMY

ALLOWS, CHEMICALLY STRAIGHTENEDHAIR THAT BURNS LIKE HELL,

WEAVES THAT ARE SEWN ONTO YOURHEAD, MICROBRAIDS THAT TAKE

FOREVER, WIGS, YEAH, WIGS, ANDCORN ROWS.

PSHT, I'VE SEEN YOU GUYSAT MYRTLE BEACH.

YOU KNOW WHAT CORN ROWS ARE.

BASICALLY THE ONLY HAIRSTYLESTHE ARMY ALLOWS COST A TON OF

MONEY AND PUT YOUR ASS IN ASALON FOR HOURS.

NOW THAT THE WHITE PEOPLE ARECAUGHT UP, LET'S CONTINUE.

>> WHEN I FIRST HEARD ABOUT THEREGULATIONS, I DEFINITELY WAS IN

A PANIC. I DIDN'T KNOW WHAT IWAS GOING TO DO WITH MY HAIR.

>> RIGHT. YOU WERE PROBABLYSTRESSED BECAUSE YOU ALWAYS WANT

TO LOOK FLY, RIGHT?

>> WELL, NO. IT DOESN'T HAVEANYTHING TO DO WITH LOOKING FLY,

ACTUALLY. YOU HAVE TO ACCOMPLISHYOUR MISSION. THE HAIRSTYLES

THAT WE'RE LEFT WITH ARECOSTLY AND TIME CONSUMING

AND, HONESTLY, GET IN THE WAY OFYOU DOING YOUR JOB PROPERLY.

>> BUT SOME PEOPLE IN THEMILITARY THINK SERGEANT JACOBS

HAS STEPPED OUT OF LINE, LIKEFORMER LIEUTENANT COMMANDER

THOMAS CHEEVER. AND HE'S GOTSOME MUCH-NEED ADVICE FOR

BLACK SERVICE WOMEN.

>> SOLDIER, IT'S TIME TO SUCK ITUP.

THEY'RE CALLED UNIFORMREGULATIONS FOR THE PURPOSE OF

MAKING PEOPLE LOOK UNIFORM.

>> OF COURSE, EVERYONE IN THEARMY SHOULD LOOK THE

SAME, WHETHER YOU LOOK LIKE, TOTAKE TWO TOTALLY RANDOM

EXAMPLES, WILFORD BRIMLEY ORBEYONCE'S PRETTIER SISTER.

>> BUT ALSO, THERE ARE SAFETYISSUES IN THAT WHETHER IT BE

KEVLAR HELMETS, WHETHER IT BE AGAS MASK, WHETHER IT BE AN

OXYGEN MASK FOR AN AVIATOR ANDTHINGS OF THAT NATURE, MUST FIT

PROPERLY.

>> SO YOU NEED TO BE ABLE TO PUTON A GAS MASK?

>> YES.>> LIKE THIS?

>> YES.

>> AND YOU NEED TO HAVE ANAPPROVED HAIRSTYLE?

>> CORRECT.

>> LIKE A WIG, LIKE THIS?

WELL, LET'S TRY TO PUT THIS ONAND THIS ON RIGHT NOW AND SEE

HOW IT FEELS.

GO AHEAD.

>> PRESUMABLY THE WIG WOULDALREADY BE ON.

OKAY, WELL, THAT'S MINUS ONEDEMERIT.

MEETING A WHITE STANDARD OFBEAUTY CAN GIVE YOU A THREE

STOOGES STANDARD OF COMBATREADINESS.

HOW DOES THAT FEEL?>> IT FEELS TERRIBLE.

>> NOW, WAS THAT BATTLE READYHAIR?

>> NO.

>> SO WHY CHANGE THE REGULATIONSNOW?

IT'S FUNNY, BACK WHEN THE ARMYWAS FIGHTING TWO WARS, THEY

NEEDED BLACK WOMEN.

BUT NOW THEY CAN SUDDENTLYAFFORD TO BE A LITTLE PICKIER.

>> THESE NEW REGULATIONS COULDDEFINITELY DETER BLACK FEMALES

FROM JOINING THE MILITARYBECAUSE IT'S WAS LIKE, YOU'RE

GOOD ENOUGH TO GO TO IRAQ AND,YOU KNOW, LIKE RISK YOUR LIFE,

BUT YOU'RE NOT GOOD ENOUGHTO WEAR YOUR HAIR THE WAY

IT NATURALLY GROWS OUT OF YOURHAIR.

>> WELL, WHAT IF THE ARMYRECOGNIZED HOW PAINFUL HAIR

RELAXERS ARE AND THEN REWARDEDYOU WITH A MEDAL? GREAT HAIR,

SERGEANT JAMES. WE'RE AWARDINGYOU WITH A PURPLE SCALP?

>> UM, I DON'T WANT A PURPLESCALP.

I THINK THEY REALLY NEED TOEDUCATE THEMSELVES ABOUT THE

COMPLEXITY OF BLACK HAIR.

THEY'RE NOT AWARE ANDPROBABLY DIDN'T FEEL A NEED TO

GO FIND OUT ABOUT IT.

>> DO YOU KNOW WHAT WE NEED?SOMEONE TO EDUCATE AND INSPIRE

NOT JUST THE MILITARY BUT THEENTIRE COUNTRY.

SOMEONE WHO CAN RAISE AWARENESS.

>> RIGHT.

THAT'S ACTUALLY WHAT I'VE BEENTRYING DO WITH MY PETITION.

>> NO, NOT YOU, SOMEBODY WITHMAGNETIC PERSONALITY, A TALENTED

TV PERSON.

LUCKILY I KNEW JUST THE PERSON.

IT WAS GO TIME.

COME WITH ME IF YOU WANT TOLIVE. IN AN ARMY

WITHOUT A LOT OF PISSED-OFFBLACK LADIES. LET'S GO.

LET'S COMMENCE WITH OPERATIONBLACK HAIR.

OILS, SERUMS, POMADES, THESEARE TOOLS OF THE TRADE,

THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW.

A RECON MISSION TO UNCOVER JUSTWHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE BLACK HAIR

ARMY READY.

>> I NEED DO YOU TALK TO HIMABOUT WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THIS

AND DON'T SAY IT'S BECAUSE YOUHAVE A NATIVE AMERICAN GRANDMA.

HOT COMB. KNOW IT.

RESPECT IT.

>> WHAT THIS IS, IT'S EXTENSION,HAIR EXTENSIONS.

>> DOES IT HURT?

>> DOES IT HURT?

>> YEAH, YEAH, IT HURTS.

>> THIS IS RELAXER.

IT WILL LAY YOUR [BLEEPED] OUT.

YOU'RE GOING TO SIT HERE ANDYOU'RE GOING TO WATCH HER GET

HER BRAIDS DONE. IT'S GOING TOTAKE FOUR HOURS.

OKAY.

DON'T LOOK AT ME.

EYES ON TARGET.

THIS ISN'T A 20-MINUTETACTICAL CREWCUT.

THIS IS BOOTS ON THE GROUND,HANDS IN THE HAIR, ALL DAMN DAY.

BUT WAS THIS WORKING?

WHAT IS THIS?

>> RELAXER.

>> WHAT DOES IT DO?>> LAY YOUR [BLEEPED] OUT.

>> YOU HAVE SURPRISED ME TODAY.

>> YES, MA'AM.

I'M WEARING A BLIND FOLD, NOTEARPLUGS.

PLEASE.

>> MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

ONE WHITE GUY IS PROBABLYCONVINCED.

BUT I COULDN'T STOP THERE.

I HAD TO TAKE THIS MESSAGE OFINSPIRATION TO THE ENTIRE

NATION.

I HAVE A WEAVE.

I HAVE A WEAVE THAT WE BE JUDGENOT BY WHAT GROWS OUT OF OUR

HEAD BUT BY THE CONTENTS WITHINIT.

I HAVE BEEN TO THE BEAUTY SHOP.

DAMN, YOU STILL NOT DONE WITHTHEM BRAIDS?

[BLEEPED].

[BLEEPED].

[LAUGHTER]>> Jon: JESSICA WILLIAMS.

WE'LL BE RIGHT BACK.

VERY NICE.

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