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McKnight: “Our Work to End Racial Bias Must Not Stop Here”

The New Jersey Attorney General’s office has concluded its investigation into an incident at Buena Regional High School, during which a biracial student was required to cut his dreadlocks to compete in a wrestling tournament. As a result of the investigation, the Division on Civil Rights and the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) reached an agreement to suspend the referee involved for the next two wrestling seasons and require implicit bias training for officials and staff involved in high school athletics across New Jersey.

In response to the announcement, Assemblywoman Angela McKnight (D-Hudson) released the following statement:

“It’s unbelievable to think that in 2019, a person could be marginalized because of their hair. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to a student at Buena Regional High School when he was told he would have to cut his dreadlocks in order to compete in a wrestling match. This is wholly unacceptable.

            “The problem is bigger than the referee. While I am pleased he is suspended, as he should be because his judgment was clearly flawed, the larger problem is discrimination and that’s what legislators must look to correct through laws prohibiting this type of bias. Our work to end racial bias – particularly in schools – must not stop here. As a black woman with natural hair, I’m determined to prevent men and women who look like me from being targeted for their appearance. We must condemn racism, discrimination and harassment today and every day.”