Alan Maloney, the racist wrestling referee who cut a young Black wrestler’s locs before a match, has been suspended from refereeing matches for two years. On Wednesday, the New Jersey Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJIAA) and The New Jersey Division on Civil Rights (NJDCR) announced the “punishment” rendered upon Maloney via a statement.
Maloney, who is white, told biracial wrestler Andrew Johnson that his locs and headgear were inappropriate for his match and that they were outside the guidelines of regulations. He then said to Johnson that if he wanted to compete, he had to cut his locs or forfeit the match. The teen acquiesced minutes before his event took place.
Andrew Johnson was humiliated and degraded in front of his teammates and other wrestlers.
“Racial discrimination in the enforcement of the rules of any sport is inconsistent with the spirit of fair play,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.
“The Division on Civil Rights’ action today makes it less likely that any student-athlete will have to endure discrimination that not only undermines fair competition but also violates our state laws,” Grewal continued.
The decision is particularly lenient and troubling given Maloney’s racist history with Black athletes as well as other referees. According to the Courier-Post, Maloney’s aggressive and bigoted behavior has been well-documented. He was heard using the n-word and even resorting to physical aggression against Black referees in South Jersey. It is not surprising that these past offenses were ignored.
The NJIAA and the NJDCR merely attempted to put a band-aid on the issue by offering implicit bias training versus terminating referees who are known to demonstrate racist behaviors.
Although the organizations “implicitly” state that Black athletes cannot be discriminated against because of their hair, it is against federal and state laws to “have grooming or appearance policies that ban, limit or restrict hairstyles closely associated with being Black, including, but not limited to, twists, locs, braids, cornrows, Bantu knots and fades.”
Related Story: Hair Discrimination is Now Illegal in New York
Given Maloney’s past, why was the punishment so lenient? And why is discriminating against Black athletes still practiced if it’s illegal?
The answer quite frankly is- it is easier to be appalled at the behavior but not acknowledge the root cause- intolerance, bias, and white supremacy. Alan Maloney’s actions were racist and hateful, and the practice is the reason why states around the country are implementing laws like the “Crown Act.”
Until society, organizations and people are ready to have an honest conversation, discriminatory practices concerning Black bodies will continue.