DeAndre Arnold: From Suspension to the Oscars

Published on February 1, 2020

If you’ve been watching the news in the last week, then I’m sure you know about DeAndre Arnold. If not, let me fill you in.

DeAndre Arnold reigns from Mont Belvieu, Texas. Arnold is a high school senior getting ready to graduate in the spring. The only thing is, however, that he hasn’t been to school in the last week.

Barbers Hill High School suspended the teen after he refused to cut his dreadlocks in order to attend graduation. Arnold and his mother, Sandy, told news outlets that he has been complying with the school’s dress code.

The Barbers Hill ISD’s Dress Code

The original dress code calls for all students to have their hair above their collar at all times; Arnold stated that he always tied his dreadlocks up to follow the rules. However, his mother revealed that three months before graduation, the Barbers Hill Independent School District changed the code, stating that “hair ‘must be clean and well groomed’ and not extend on male students, at any time, below the eyebrows, the ear lobes or the top of a T-shirt collar—including when let down.”

And while the United Urban Alumni Association views this as a “black and white issue,” Barbers Hill ISD Superintendent Greg Poole stated that this is not about dreadlocks or race, only the length of his hair.

Arnold states that his dreadlocks are a part of his father’s culture; his father is from Trinidad and the teen embraces that part of him and does not plan to cut his hair.

DeAndre Receives High-Profile Support

After the Barbers Hill ISD sent out a tweet in regards to the dress code, multiple people on social media tweeted back in support of Arnold’s choices. Eventually, word of Arnold’s suspension reached the sports world and Hollywood, with many showing him support.

DeAndre Hopkins from Houston tweeted in support of the Texas teen—Hopkins also sports dreadlocks.

Furthermore, Bernice King, daughter of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., tweeted at the school district, expressing that Arnold’s hair does not “reflect lowness.”

Arnold was also invited by Ellen DeGeneres to appear on her show earlier in the week to discuss the issue and talk about his aspirations about becoming a veterinarian in the future. The talk show host pleaded with his school district to reconsider and allow him to return to school and graduate.

“I am begging you. This kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids,” she said. “He’s a good guy. I just am urging you to do the right thing. Please.”

Following the interview, Alicia Keys surprised Arnold with a $20,000 check to go toward his college education. Check out the full interview below:

But the surprises did not stop there! On Friday, the production team behind the Oscar-nominated, animated short film, Hair Love, invited DeAndre and his mother to be their official guests at the Oscars ceremony on February 9—Hair Love follows the story of an African-American father, who also has dreadlocks, attempting to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.

The Hair Love team includes creator Matthew A. Cherry and producers, actress Gabrielle Union and her husband, former NBA player Dwayne Wade.

Cherry posted the video on his personal Twitter account, stating that if Arnold’s school “didnt want to let him walk at his graduation because of his hair we figured that he should walk with us on the red carpet at the #Oscars as our special guest.”

After receiving the invitation, Arnold said that it was both hard to take in, but that he is also excited.

“It blows my mind that people that have so much voice, they’re on my side and they’re with me. I love that. I appreciate that. I really do.”

In addition, he thanked his mother for being with him every step of the way.

Lexi Jones is an award-winning journalist and Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Las Vegas, she covers startup brands in entertainment, internet and LGBTQ+ startup news. She is also an editor of Grit Daily's "Top 100" entrepreneur lists.

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