Basketball Australia has been called out for racial discrimination by Melbourne Boomers player Tiffany Mitchell.
The former WNBA shooting guard says she was told to change her hair for the “safety” of other players on the court.
“I was approached about my hair, and that for the start of the season I wouldn’t be able to play if I didn’t tie my hair up or wear it in a bun,” says Tiffany, “an email was sent out informing coaches and refs to make sure the ‘rule’ was in place for the ‘players’ with braids.”
According to the email sent by Basketball Australia, “free braids” that “swing free” from the head can “injure” other players.
However, nothing in the email was said about players that have long ponytails and how their hair can injure others.
“I’ve played all around the world, in every top league at the highest level and my braids has never been an issue,” says Tiffany, “when I approached Basketball Australia with the discomfort it caused me reading and hearing about this email they stood on the fact that it was a FIBA rule they were told to enforce it."
She says its clear "only the black people in this league had these type of braids."
Basketball Australia has since issued a statement, confirming the racist rule has now been removed.
“The policy has been deemed discriminatory and inconsistent with Basketball Australia’s Diversity and Inclusion framework by the WNBL Commission,” a spokesperson says.
Tiffany says she's happy Basketball Australia has been held accountable for their actions and ignorance.
She says this "goes to show we [still] have a long way to go for equality all over the world."