andrew johnson wrestling dreadlocks


White referee makes Black high school wrestler cut dreads to compete

The look on the student's face says it all.


Samira Sadeque


Published Dec 21, 2018   Updated May 20, 2021, 10:55 pm CDT

In a stomach-churning video, a white referee at a New Jersey high school is seen forcing a Black student wrestler into having his dreadlocks chopped off.

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The student, Andrew Johnson, was about to compete in a wrestling match for Buena Regional High School in New Jersey when the referee gave him an ultimatum to either cut his dreadlocks or accept defeat. While Johnson “chose” to have his dreadlocks cut, he is almost in a state of shock as it’s happening. In the video, he stands, nearly helpless, as a white woman cuts off his hair. Johnson won the match but was visibly still upset afterward. 

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The referee, who has been identified as Alan Maloney by TMZ, said the cover Johnson was wearing over his dreadlocks wasn’t enough. He also has a history of racism. In March 2016, he used a racist slur against a Black man at a social gathering, for which he later apologized.

Mike Frankel, Sports Director at SNJ Today News, tweeted out the video of Maloney’s action insinuating it was an act of heroism on Johnson’s part, calling him the “epitome of a team player.”

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He clearly missed the entire point—that Johnson was forced, on the spot, to choose between having white authority strip him of his identity and culture or being “team player”—and his romanticizing of the incident caught flak on Twitter.

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The Buena Regional High School did not respond to the Daily Dot’s requests for comment. Its website cites their mission as “Honoring Tradition. Inspiring Future.”

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*First Published: Dec 21, 2018, 1:18 pm CST