dimanche 19 mars 2017

U.S : They banned her from the championship game because she wears a hijab.

They stopped 16-year-old Je'Nan Hayes from

 playing in the championship basketball game

 because she was wearing a hijab.

Tell the NFSHSA to stop targeting Muslim teenagers.
Make sure no other child has to endure this

 humiliation because of her faith. 

Take action

Dear friend, 

They banned her from playing in the championship game because she was wearing a hijab.
Sixteen year old, Je’Nan Hayes had spent months perfecting her basketball game--unrelentingly practicing dribbling and shooting every day with her beloved team mates after school. As a practicing Muslim, she wore a hijab every single day--but that didn’t stop her from playing in 24 games throughout the season. That was set to change on the day of the big championship game. The anticipation was high, with the shouts of proud parents and the smell of gym shoes and popcorn in the air. As Je’Nan stood for the National Anthem, her excitement grew--this was the moment she had been waiting for all season. The moment all of her hard work would pay off. But as the game started, Je’Nan never got off the bench.There she sat--watching as every single member of her team got to participate in the championship game. Her spirits sank lower as she watched her team suffer a defeat--but nothing prepared her for her coach pulling her aside after the game and gently breaking the news as Je’Nan sobbed : the referee wouldn’t let her play in the game because she wore a hijab even though she’d played in every game that season.1

The referee was enacting an anti-Muslim rule in the National Federation of State High School Associations' handbook which outlaws religious headwear unless the player has a signed waiver from the state. But in a country built on the principles of religious freedom, it’s outrageous that there's a rule that inherently singles out Muslim teenagers and other religious minorities--why should they need permission to wear garb that is essential to the practice of their faith ?  Especially because there has never been a recorded incident of a hijab being a safety hazard during a basketball game. And even the state governing body is backing Je’Nan up, stating that she should have been allowed to play in the game. But as long as the rule exists, it leaves Muslim students open to irregular enforcement by referees who may or may not be anti-Muslim. No child should be denied the fruits of their labor due to religious practice.That’s why it’s time for the National Federation of State High School Associations to stop targeting Muslim teenagers and lift the ban on hijabs and other religious headwear now.

The NFHS targeting Muslim teenagers shouldn’t be taken lightly--it’s a policy that’s simply stoking the flames of anti-Muslim bigotry that have reached a terrifying height since Donald Trump was elected. Since his election, hate crimes have already risen to a level not seen since 9/11.2 And the Trump administration has already tried to implement two Muslim bans--halting immigration, and even tourism from Black and Brown MuslimsThe National Federation of State High School Associations must lift the ban on hijabs now.

Now, more than ever, governing bodies like the NFHS that claim to advocate for all student-athletes, must responsibly wield the enormous power they hold. As they are the supervisory organization over high school athletics, the National Federation of State High School Associations can either normalize--or stigmatize students of marginalized religions, countries of origin, and ethnicities. They must take this responsibility seriously and create an equitable playing environment for all student-athletes. Tell them to lift the ban on hijabs now, so no more students have to endure what Je’Nan Hayes did : putting in all of the hard work to win a championship, only to have her dreams ripped away from her--just because she’s Muslim.

Until justice is real, 

Brandi, Rashad, Arisha, Anika, Jade, Evan, Corina, the rest of the Color Of Change team

References :

  1. “After playing all season, Maryland girl held out of basketball game for wearing a hijab." Washington Post, 13 March 2017. https://coc.actionkit.com/go/7596?t=8&akid=7126.1942551.djsFJZ
  2. "Post-election spate of hate crimes worse than post-9/11, experts say." USA Today, 12 November 2016. http://act.colorofchange.org/go/7095?t=10&akid=7126.1942551.djsFJZ

Color Of Change is building a movement to elevate the voices of Black folks and our allies, and win real social and political change. Help keep our movement strong.

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