An 18-year-old from Texas, US is determined to change the status quo of how his school views the manner in which pupils wear their hair even if it means him not walking with the rest of his peers during his graduation.
DeAndre Arnold, who is a senior pupil at Barbers Hill High School found himself in a dilemma last year when his school gave him an ultimatum over his dreadlocks. DeAndre, who has been a scholar at the school since the beginning of his school career has been growing out his dreadlocks over the past ten years without it being a problem he told FOX26 in an interview with his family recently.
However, that all changed in December 2019 when he was told that he had to cut them off during the holidays as his dreadlocks violate school rules. He was given an ultimatum that should he not heed the advice of the school board he would face suspension and in turn not walk on stage with the rest of his peers during their graduation ceremony.
Both the school board and superintendent, Greg Poole, have refused DeAndre’s application to appeal his suspension. Greg pointed out that the issues the school has is not with the DeAndre’s dreadlocks, but their length.
Speaking to the Mirror he said, “There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair. Our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years.”
This statement DeAndre’s parents rebut with his mother calling out the school for having “sexist” rules as it allows girls to wear their hair in all sorts of different styles. DeAndre's father is of Trinidadian origins and hair is at the forefront of representation of culture and heritage that’s why he stands in solidarity with his son’s decision not to cut his hair to collar length as the school demands. DeAndre’s mum further explained that her son always has his hair tied up so in no way does it violate the school rules.
The 18-year-olds fight for justice has attracted and gained support from Black Lives Matter Houston activists and United Urban Alumni Association. The groups staged a protest outside the Barbers Hill High School's board meeting on Monday night, Martin Luther King Jr Day, to decry what they say is a discriminatory policy reported Daily Mail.
Activist Ashton Woods of Black Lives Matter said “The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to black bodies" while Gary Monroe of the United Urban Alumni Association said, “I expect it from a board that has zero diversity.”