North Carolina High School Softball Player Who Was Forced to Cut Her Hair Before Game Because She Was Wearing Beads Says Experience Was ‘Humiliating’

Nicole Pyles, a teenager at Hillside High School in Durham, North Carolina, was told by umpires in a softball game to either remove beads from her hair or that she wouldn’t be able to participate.

Pyles, who is Black, was wearing hair beads and decided to let her teammates cut her hair rather than not play in the team’s senior night. According to The News & Observer newspaper, the incident has stirred up significant backlash and prompted Durham Public Schools to launch an investigation into a “culturally biased” high school athletics rule in the state. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice blasted the rule, labeling it a “hair discrimination incident” and requesting state officials “eradicate all forms of anti-Black biases in schools.”

The two umpires of the game were enforcing rules outlined by the National Federation of State High School Associations (in North Carolina) prohibiting plastic visors, bandannas and hair beads. Bobby pins, barrettes and hair clips are, however, allowed. Per The Observer, the home plate umpire was Black while the base umpire was white.

“It was humiliating,” Nicole Pyles told The News & Observer Wednesday. “Why do I have to take away from myself just to play this game where we are actually doing well? I’m embarrassed because you pick on me in front of all these people for no reason.”

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SOURCE: USA Today, Scott Gleeson