The owners of a recreational center in North Carolina are under fire for pool rules that many have interpreted as racist. Last week, John and Teresa Freeman found themselves on the defensive after a photo of their list of rules, which had been posted on the property for years, were shared on the Outdoor Recreation Center of Wendell Facebook page, sparking outrage over one rule in particular.
Raleigh-Durham area’s WTVD reports that rule number seven on the list, the photo of which has been removed from the Facebook page but has since been posted elsewhere (including in a tweet by WTVD reporter Andrea Blanford), reads, “No baggy pants, no dread-locks/weaves/extensions or revealing clothes will be permitted or you will be asked to leave.” Some people in the community have criticized the rules as racist, given the specific clothing and hairstyle choices mentioned, garnering attention from both local and national activists and media.
The Freemans have since told WTVD that Teresa, who John says wrote and posted the rules, is not racist and simply misunderstood what locs are. However, WTVD reports that, in a more recent Facebook post apologizing for the way the rule was phrased, it should have stated only “NO artificial hair.” In another post by the owners, they cite a Certified Pool Owners (CPO) class that they say told them not to allow any hair extensions because it could get through the pool’s the strainers and into the pump.
The explanation has not stopped people from continuing to leave condemnatory comments on the center’s Facebook page. In response, WTVD says the Freemans are planning to speak to an attorney about taking action against those who have publicly called them racist.
This comes amidst instances in the last couple of years that hairstyles traditionally associated with black culture have been targeted. For example, in December 2018, a black high school student was told by a white referee to cut his locs on the spot before a wrestling match, and in October 2017, a young woman accused a manager at her then-employer, Banana Republic, of saying her box braids were “too urban” a hairstyle to be worn on the sales floor.
Allure has reached out to the Freemans for comment but has not yet heard back.
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