Ellen DeGeneres pleaded, "his kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids. He's a good guy. I just am urging you to do the right thing. Please."
Recently, DeAndre Arnold, a Black senior at a high school in Texas, was told he would either have to cut his dreadlocks - a typical African hairstyle - off or be banned from walking at his own graduation. Instead of letting his community down, DeAndre decided to stand his ground and refused to cut off his dreadlocks. Now, he will be forced to attend an "alternative school" despite keeping his grades up. On an episode of The Ellen Show with Ellen DeGeneres, he explained why this is important to him so thousands of Americans could hear his story. And, even better yet, he was awarded a $20,000 scholarship, NBC News reports.
Texas teen Deandre Arnold has been suspended over his locs and graduation threatened if he doesn't cut them.— Hello Beautiful (@HelloBeautiful) January 22, 2020
This is reason #278 why we need a federal #CrownAct to be passed because our hair should not stand in the way of our success.
READ MORE: https://t.co/n0nI3w3p3k pic.twitter.com/RzXBLGAXQd
Talk show host Ellen began his interview by noting that she was, without a doubt, on the student's side. She stated, "I'm sure this is not easy or comfortable for you. But I want you to just relax and know that I'm here for you." DeAndre never expected for his story, as a young teen from a small school in Texas, to ever become of national importance. However, he wanted to share the injustice he experienced with the rest of the country. Moreover, Ellen wished to learn more about exactly why the school he attends, Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, Texas, was enforcing this seemingly bigoted rule. Explaining the situation, she said, "You get good grades. You've never been in trouble, ever. This is the first time anything has come up. And now, you haven't been in school for weeks because of this situation... That's why you're here. Because I don't understand this."
Though DeAndre has worn dreadlocks to school for years, it was only after Christmas break last year that he was approached by the administration and told to cut his hair. "Every day I would go to school, I would be in dress code," he said. "But the thing with them is, if it was let down, I would be out of dress code." Throughout the school day, the high school senior would ensure that his hair was kept off of his shoulders, above his earlobes, and out of his eyes. Ellen then rightly pointed out that surely the girls at Barbers Hill did not have to follow the same policy. DeAndre responded, "There's plenty of girls with long hair at my school. Like, if girls can have long hair, why can't I have long hair?"
"I just personally think you should be able to wear your hair however you want, especially if [there are] girls with long hair," the talk show host affirmed. "What's the difference if girls have long hair and if guys have long hair?" After making this point, she also invited him to share why his dreadlocks were so important to him. He explained, "It's really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad." In Trinidad, dreadlocks are part of the culture and heritage, as the teen noted. "And I really wish the school would kind of be open to other cultures and just, at least let us try to tell you some things. Don't just shut us out," he stated.
This is when Ellen decided to make a plea to Barbers Hill High School. Looking straight into the camera, she said, "I think that's what school's supposed to do, is teach you about other cultures. You're not supposed to teach them. They're supposed to teach you... I am begging you. This kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids. He's a good guy. I just am urging you to do the right thing. Please." In addition to this, she asked R&B icon Alicia Keys on stage, which is when the duo presented DeAndre with a $20,000 scholarship to attend college and study to become a veterinarian. "I want to tell you that, I couldn't believe the story when I heard it," the singer stated. "And I'm super proud of you for standing up for what you know is right. And I know that the school needs to do the right thing." Will this plea work? Only time will tell. But DeAndre is creating waves with his hairdo and making some noise for all those the Black kids who want to do nothing but honor their culture. More power to him!