High school wrestler Andrew Johnson was forced to cut his locs on the sidelines of a match if he wanted to compete earlier this month, as Blavity reported, but officials still won’t leave the teen and his hair alone. 

Despite the significantly shorter length of Johnson’s locs, a referee warned the athletic director at his New Jersey school on Wednesday that he intended on requiring the teenager to wear a hair covering during the match, NBC News reported.

New Jersey referee Alan Maloney refused to allow Johnson to wear a protective head covering granted often to athletes with long hair and gave the young man an ultimatum: either cut his dreads or forfeit the game. The video of Johnson electing to cut his hair before winning the match went viral and drew heavy criticisms from many online. Maloney would soon after be suspended. 

Despite online lessons given regarding why Maloney’s actions were a display of racial targeting as the Black boy was stripped of his hair, Johnson has once again been directed to cover his hair. 

According to NBC News, Johnson appeared for his first match back after taking a break when his coach was informed the 16-year-old’s hair would have to be covered before he could play. When his mother questioned why officials admitted there had been a mistake, and the message was meant for another wrestler. However, no other athlete appeared in a protective cover. 

To clarify confusion regarding when a protective covering is mandatory, New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association Wrestling official Roy Dragon sent a mass email with pictures of hairstyles as an illustration. Among these images included a Black person with braided, short or dreadlocked hair on the top and shaved sides, NJ Advanced Media reported.

However, according to the official rules, hair coverings are not required unless the hair in its “natural state” passes the earlobe or reaches the top of a shirt.

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