Navy Discharges Black Woman After She Refused To Cut Natural Hair

The Navy has discharged Jessica Sims (pictured above), a sailor for 12 years after she refused to cut her natural hair style. The decision comes after months of discussion about protocol related to black women's hair in the armed forces.

Sims, "who wears her hair in tightly twisted locks pulled back in a bun," says her record is unblemished and she received no complaints about her hair until she taught at a Navy boot camp in Illinois. Once there, she was ordered to cut her hair or wear a wig; she refused, and was written up for "serious misconduct."

"For the past couple weeks, not knowing what the Navy was going to do, if they were going to move forward with the discharge or keep me in, had me in a little limbo," Sims said in a phone interview Wednesday with USA Today. "In the back of my head, I knew that they weren't going to change, so it was more of just waiting for the date."

Lt. Cmdr. Chris Servello, spokesman for the chief of naval personnel, told USA Today that Sims was discharged for "disobeying a lawful order," claiming her bun was too bulky to fit under a gas mask. Sims however, says her hairstyle didn't violate regulations and didn't believe she should have to "be told that I have to straighten my hair in order to be within what they think the regulations are, and I don't think I should have to cover it up with a wig."

Sims says she had no regrets about her decision. "I still stand by it," she told Think Progress. "I would do it again if I had to."