Woodrow Wilson basketball player benched because of his dreadlocks

BECKLEY, WV (WOAY) – A Facebook post caught the attention of us and so many others as the mother of a Woodrow Wilson High School basketball player posted that her son was told he wouldn’t be able to play unless he cut his dreadlocks off or took them out.  

Freshman Matthew Moore’s first time playing basketball on a team isn’t going the way he planned. At the beginning of the season, he signed a contract, like every basketball player at Woodrow Wilson, saying he would keep his hair “neat.” He thought that having his hair in braids and put up out of his face was neat. However, that was not the case in the eyes of Head Coach Ron Kidd. 

According to Moore, he was told at practice his dreadlocks were not acceptable. At the time, he was not sure he could take them out, but then it came time for the first game. 

“My first game, I went out, and he told me I had to go back in the locker room. I couldn’t play, and I got undressed, and I just sat on the bench that game,” Moore said. 

He sat the bench the next game, and that’s when his mother Tarsha Green showed up and found her son with tears in his eyes trying to take out his braids. She then took him outside to help. 

“I’m standing up in the cold trying to take out these dreads and I’m like, ‘Matt, this is pointless. Like what are we doing right now?’ So I go back in, and I look at the rest of the team. We’ve got ponytails. We’ve got afros. We’ve got all kinds of hair,” she said. “No one on the court has dreadlocks, so I just got frustrated because he’s been singled out because of his dreadlocks. Is dreadlocks not neat? I’m confused. What is the definition of neat?”

He took some of his braids out that night by hand and continues to rip them out daily, so Moore is now back on the court but both mother and son say that if his dreadlocks didn’t fall under neat, his hair now certainly does not. Green found it especially problematic that her son was able to play football and that even the JROTC program was eventually accepting of his hair. 

“What message are we sending them? If you want to play on Woodrow Wilson’s sports or if you want to play on the basketball team, you better cut off them dreads,” she said. “Oh, you can have hair as long as you want, you just can’t have dreadlocks, and to me that’s discrimination.” 

What she wants now is for there to be set laws from the state level that can trickle down to the counties, because she does not want this to happen again to someone else. 

“I want this situation with Matthew to nip it in the bud. Let everybody come together and let’s come up with a common rule that is fair for every culture in West Virginia,” Green said.  

We reached out to Coach Kidd and although he did not give an official statement, he did say that all of his players are instructed to keep a neat haircut. We have not heard back from the school or the school board.

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Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com