In early April, Diamond Campbell, a Bruce High School Black powerlifter, was almost disqualified from competing in the state championship because of beads in her hair.
“I was a little angry…I [felt] shame a little bit, I kind of felt humiliated, like I was being picked on in a way…The head judge came up and she said, ‘She can’t wear the beads’…’You got to take them out or you can’t lift, they’re gonna disqualify you, they’re taking your first lift away’…Before I knew it, I had like eight different girls in my head and they were all taking (the beads) out,” Campbell told and NBC News affiliate WLBT.
Fortunately, teammates and competitors alike chipped in to help Campbell out, such as Jorja Roberson who said, “We were just trying to give her an opportunity to still compete because it’s not fair to her to not have that opportunity because of something so small.”
The actions of her peers were able to elevate Campbell’s spirits, and she ultimately finished fourth in her weight class, and set a personal record in the dead lift despite the inauspicious start to her day. “They could have easily just you know, let me sit there and have to do it by myself and probably miss my next lift because there were a lot of beads. But they put everything aside, and they helped me,” Campbell stated.
Even though the rules have long prevented “lifters from wearing certain types of headgear…the itemized list is a new amendment that was just added.”
Angie Owen, Campbell’s coach, said, “This year, they went in and they itemized things like bandanas, beads, hair clips, those kinds of things.”
Campbell, who is African American knows the intentions behind the newly appointed regulations.
“Clips, the beads, that’s in our culture,” Campbell said. “When they wrote the rules, they weren’t writing it for white people or other races. They were writing it for my people.”
After this incident, the rules are being revised and beads will no longer be banned for the next season, per Rickey Neaves, MHSAA’s Head Director.
Benjamin Crump, a prominent civil rights attorney, shared the widely circulated “video on Twitter, calling out how ‘awful’ and ‘embarrassing’ the incident must have been for the young athlete…’ We must continue to fight to BAN biased hair discrimination everywhere!”
Claudia Jordan, host of Fox Soul responded, “I know you already know by now but it was only passed in some states and it won’t make it to Biden’s desk to sign which we know he will—until the raggedy a-s Senate passes it.”