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Social reaction to high school wrestler Andrew Johnson, who was forced to cut his dreadlocks to compete

Folks are none too pleased with the referee

4:06 PMProminent figures from all corners of social media voiced outrage Friday after video of a black high school wrestler in New Jersey being forced to cut his dreadlocks by a referee went viral.

According to a report, Buena Regional High School junior Andrew Johnson attempted to cover his dreadlocks with a head cap before his match at a meet on Dec. 19, but was told that his covering was not in compliance with state rules.

While Johnson’s coaches fought back against the ruling, Johnson was told he must cut his hair or face a forfeit. The wrestler opted for the school’s trainer to cut his hair.

The referee has since been barred from further officiating pending an investigation into the incident by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

This is not the first time this referee has been involved in an incident closely related to race. In 2016, the referee, Alan Maloney, reportedly poked his finger in the chest of a black referee and called him the N-word.

But the incident is only half of the outrage. As video began to surface on social media, both reporters and outlets alike began to brand the incident as a “feel-good story,” labeling Johnson as courageous and a “team player.”

Many on social media, however, immediately voiced their opposition to the framing of the event, instead labeling it for what it was, a case of racial bias.

Johnson would win his 120-pound match with a takedown in overtime, but as the video shows was clearly more concerned with the events that occurred before the match.

The incident elicited response from a handful of high-profile figures including Ava DuVernay, Soledad O’Brien and world champion wrestler Jordan Burroughs: