Culture

This Army Recruit Just Got His First Haircut In 15 Years And OMG He’s Unrecognizable

As a society, we place a lot of importance on hair to impose a set of standards, etiquette, and mores on each other. Thus, I don’t take it lightly that U.S. Army Private Reynold Arroyo had a big  — no, massive — chop so that he could enlist. Arroyo donated a whopping 150 inches or 12.5 feet of hair to Locks of Love

Hair can be such an expression of who we are, that it’s not uncommon for people to cry after a bad haircut. Hair can be such a reflection of beauty standards, that it’s not uncommon for us Afro-Latinxs to cry over our alleged “pelo malo.” Boys have short hair, girls have long hair, blondes have more fun, brunettes are brainy. There are hairstyles and haircuts (usually the black and brown ones) that are banned in schools, offices, and institutions. 

Now, are you as exhausted as I am? Take it from me, if you have the freedom to wear your hair without restrictions, take advantage. Get weird!

Long hair, don’t care.

When 23-year-old Arroyo decided to enlist at the Army recruiting station in Missoula, Montana, he knew he would have to make some changes. The California native had moved to Montana just to enlist.

“I moved out here from California, and I’m just really excited to be enlisting in the Army,” Arroyo said. 

The only problem was Arroyo hadn’t cut his hair in 15 years. His last haircut was in 2004. I have a medium-sized afro that is home to several squirrel families, I can only imagine what’s in Arroyo’s mane. 

Tío Sam ain’t playing.

The Army has strict grooming guidelines and as it stood, Arroyo’s 150 inches of luscious locks weren’t going to work for Uncle Sam. Tío Sam was like, “Nah, your hair is to dope for this job where everybody has to look the same for strategic reasons and important military things, bruh.” 

I can’t imagine what it is like going through a military makeover. According to the longstanding policy, men’s hair must be “neatly groomed” with “sideburns neatly trimmed.” This clearly leaves little room for swag or rock and roll, although Arroyo makes due.

15 years and 150 inches later…

While the army provides haircuts, Arroyo decided to get a headstart on the makeover. As soon as he enlisted as an Infantryman with the Army Airborne at the Missoula Army Recruiting Station, our boy was ready to trim his follicles for a good cause. Bruh has got spunk! 

A stylist put Arroyo’s hair into multiple sectioned ponytails before she snipped and buzzed 12.5 feet of locks. His hair was longer than an NBA player. His hair has more square footage than every New York City apartment. His hair is so long, Rapunzel was like: do you use Morrocan oil? I must have your secrets. Before he was serving hair metal, now he’s serving … metal tanks at the military (I don’t know anything about the Army, but he looks good)! Get you a man who can do both.

When the stylist was finished there was so much hair it filled up two bags. The Salt Lake City Army Recruiting Battalion shared Arroyo’s transformation on Facebook. 

“He decided to cut his hair in exchange for a brighter future with the Army and donate it to the Locks of Love foundation,” they wrote in the caption. 

Locks of Love.

Arroyo donated all 150 inches to the organization Locks of Love. The nonprofit charity, founded in 1997, uses human hair donations to provide wigs for Canadian and American children in need of hair due to medical conditions. The organization was spearheaded by Madonna Coffman, a cardiac nurse, who lost her hair to alopecia in her 20s after receiving a hepatitis vaccination. While Coffman eventually recovered, 13 years later, she was shocked to discover her 4-year-old daughter had alopecia too. Locks of Love was born out of a mother’s pain and compassion. In over three decades, the nonprofit has provided thousands of wigs and hairpieces to children. 

We stan a benevolent king.

“Today we’re going to be cutting my hair. Hopefully, some lucky little girl’s gonna get it,” he said in the video.

I think several people will probably get your hair, Arroyo. Although, it would be nice to think that there is one bratty little kid who demands all 150 inches of hair so that they can strut around the playground like a boss. 

Shout out to Arroyo for not one but two acts of service in a day. I am sure he will have many more once he gets his juices flowing in the Army. 

Here Are Ten Indigenous Organizations To Give Back To This Thanksgiving

Things That Matter

Here Are Ten Indigenous Organizations To Give Back To This Thanksgiving

Amazon Frontlines

Thanksgiving can feel like a rather loaded holiday, particularly if you are a part of (or are empathetic to) the Native American community. The revisionist retelling of what went on between American Indians and the Pilgrims who contributed to the ongoing occupation and genocide of the former can just leave a nasty taste in your mouth. Instead of accepting the American jingoist version of the holiday, many people have chosen to simply adopt the idea of expressing gratitude and convening with loved ones over food. 

It may be all the tryptophan from the turkey or being around friends and family, but the holiday seems to trigger a need to give to more vulnerable groups and there are fewer more vulnerable groups than indigenous people around the world. It’s not just in the United States, indigenous lives are globally marginalized and with that comes a great cost to humanity: their lives and our own. 

Indigenous communities are essential to combating climate change and when we allow those communities to be destroyed, we allow our planet to be destroyed. This Thanksgiving, let’s give back.

Missing And Murdered Indigenous Women USA

MMIW USA has a narrow scope, “to bring our missing home and help the families of the murdered cope and support them through the process of grief.” The organization provides guidance and resources to family members, who lack the support of the system, to deal with the impossible situation of having a missing loved one. The larger goal of MMIW USA is to eradicate the issue of Native American women encountering disproportionate levels of violence in the U.S. 

Donate now

Partnership With Native Americans 

According to PWNA, 90,000 American Indian families are homeless or under-housed. By serving 60 reservations across 12 states, PWNA centers “underserved and geographically isolated” communities in the Northern Plains and Southwest. The organization provides support by using programs and resources to address short-term and long-term community concerns like unemployment and housing. 

Donate now

Adopt a Native Elder Program

Don’t worry, they know the name sounds weird and they need to explain it. In the 1980s, during the Hopi-Navajo land dispute that displaced 10,000 Navajas, elders faced particularly severe hardships including a lack of food. Linda Myers and Grace Smith Yellowhammer started this organization by doing food runs for those elders. 

“When you adopt, you commit to providing your Elder with two sets of Rainbow Food Boxes annually. A.N.E. provides and delivers the food,” according to the Website. 

Donate now

The Native American Heritage Association 

NAHA serves two of the poorest counties in the country, the Crow Creek and Pine Ridge Reservations in South Dakota, where eight out of 10 Native Americans living on the reservations are employed. Like many organizations, NAHA is committed to combating the pervasive hunger that has riddled indigenous communities for decades, along with basic necessities. 

Donate now

The American Indian College Fund 

The college fund provides Native Americans with the resources necessary to take up space in higher education and is the largest of its kind in the U.S. 

“For 30 years, the College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native student access to higher education. We provide scholarships, programming to improve Native American student access to higher education, and the support and tools for them to succeed once they are there,” according to the mission statement. 

Donate now

Native American Rights Fund 

NARF provides legal resources to tribes and American Indians who cannot afford adequate representation. Since 1971, the organization has defended and won major cases to support tribal sovereignty, treaty rights, natural resource protection, education, and more on behalf of American Indians.

Donate now. 

Inuit Tapirit Kanatami 

ITK provides research, advocacy and public outreach to protect and advance the rights of Inuit in Canada. This includes a comprehensive program including plans to combat climate change, an Inuit language journal, a National Inuit Youth Counsel, food-based initiatives, and suicide prevention efforts. 

Donate now

Indigenous Literacy Foundation 

“Only 36% of Indigenous Year 5 students in very remote areas are at or above national minimum reading standards, compared to 96% for non-Indigenous students in major cities,” according to the ILF website. 

The organization addresses illiteracy in 280 remote indigenous communities in Australia by providing books, literacy programs, and community literacy projects.

Donate now

Amazon Watch

Amazon Watch not only seeks to preserve the rainforest but it also serves to advance the rights and interests of indigenous communities in the Amazon Basin. Amazon Watch argues there is no protecting the Amazon without protecting the people who have called it home for centuries. 

“Amazon Watch promotes these indigenous-led solutions, such as green development and autonomous solar power, and expands capacity for indigenous leaders, especially women, to maintain their autonomy and sovereignty for the stewardship of their ancestral territories,” according to their mission statement. 

The project partners with these communities, along with environmental organizations to continue to fight for human rights, corporate accountability, and to reduce the harmful effects of climate change. 

Donate now

Amazon Frontlines

Much like Amazon Watch, Amazon Frontlines believes that the destruction of the Amazon is intrinsically linked to the destruction of indigenous communities. AF provides indigenous families with access to clean water and renewable energy, particularly the Kofan, Siona, Secoya, and Waorani who live downriver from Ecuador’s largest oil fields. However, a renewed interest in climate change and preventing the Amazon fires has allowed the organization to extend support to communities in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Brazil. 

Donate now. 

Community In Michoacan Rallies Around Homeless Man Whose Dog Was Killed By A Hit And Run Driver

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Community In Michoacan Rallies Around Homeless Man Whose Dog Was Killed By A Hit And Run Driver

Mariscos El Pirata - Periferico / Facebook

The community of Morelia, Mexico is rallying to help a homeless man after a searing image of the man kneeling in the street, mourning his beloved dog, has gone viral. The man, only known as Raul, had used what little money he had to keep his closest friend, named Solovino, happy and healthy. All who have lost a companion animal of their own can feel the grief as they bear witness to the tragic moment Raul is pictured kneeling over Solovino’s body in the middle of the street. A driver hit Solovino on Camelinas de Morelia Avenue, and continued driving, leaving behind a tragedy.

When the residents of Morelia saw the image, they recalled all the times Raul helped them find parking spots, and the countless times the pair were spotting gifting each other good company. Local businesses and residents are now fundraising to comfort Raul during his grieving period, and are trying to get him off the streets.

A few months ago, Solovino got lost, and Raul had peppered the city streets with flyers to help him find his friend.

CREDIT: MARISCOS EL PIRATA – PERIFERICO / FACEBOOK

According to Informando en CsN, Raul had created cards and ‘lost’ posters using whatever he could find lying around. A few weeks ago, the two were happily reunited, until Solovino’s death. Reportedly, Raul initially declined any help from passersby, stricken with grief and wanting to be with Solovino alone. Eventually, he allowed some women to help him find an appropriate place to bury dear Solovino.

One local business used its social media platform to fundraise for Raul.

CREDIT: MARISCOS EL PIRATA – PERIFERICO / FACEBOOK

“We regret the loss of Mr. Raul’s faithful friend,” posted local restaurant Mariscos El Pirata – Periferico on Facebook. “Despite his difficult situation, Raul is a very pleasant and hardworking person, and helps us some days of the week to take care of the cars parked in the surroundings of Mariscos El Pirata.” The restaurant is allowing people to use their facilities as a donation center for any food or clothes people want to bring by for Raul. “This day we will not share advertising of the restaurant, but we will make this post to ask you for your support if anyone wants to help him with food or clothes,  or whatever will return a smile to his face. Our facilities are open from 10 am to 6 pm for anyone who wants to help Don Raul. Help us share.” 

The Facebook post has received 623 shares at the time of this publication.

Neighbors are sharing the spots around town where they typically find Raul.

CREDIT: FERNANDO GARCIA / FACEBOOK

“From what I could investigate, he sleeps outside the Guadalajara pharmacy that is a few blocks from Mariscos,” shared Fernando Garcia. Garcia wasn’t able to find Raul, but left him clothes, a fresh blanket and some water. Unfortunately, the influx of attention on Raul has also come from folks who might not be thinking through their donations. According to locals, several people have offered Raul a puppy. Guita MeEn passed along a message from Raul, commenting on Marisco’s Facebook post to say, “Guys, awhile ago I went to leave some things to Mr. Raul and he commented that someone left him a puppy but he wants to return the puppy. He can’t offer a home to the puppy, so please, no dogs!”

Morelia residents are also furious at the unknown driver that was speeding so fast, they hit a dog. “I’ll never forget the moment I lost my dog that way,” shared Cumulus Claus, “It’s been one of the worst episodes that has touched my life. I remember that, despite everything, I was grateful he died intact :'( I believe that did not happen with [Solovino] and it must feel worse to see his body completely destroyed. I’m very sorry for what happened and I hope the driver has a pinch of consciousness and decrease the speed when driving to have better capacity to respond when a live being crosses his way in the future…”

Others are calling on Marsicos to offer Raul a stable job.

CREDIT: MARISCOS EL PIRATA – PERIFERICO / FACEBOOK

“What a nice gesture,” Monserrat Calderón commented on the restaurant’s willingness to become a donation center for Raul, “but you should help him by giving him the stable work.”

You can mail donations to Mariscos El Pirata at El Mirador del Punhuato, 58249 Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico. Rest in Peace, sweet Solovino.

READ: This Mom Has Gone Viral For Making and Passing Out Hundreds of Tortas to Mexico’s Impoverished Citizens Every Week