Like most 18-year-olds, DeAndre Arnold should be focusing on his upcoming prom and high school graduation. But as we know, for Black people it’s never that simple.
Arnold has been suspended from school because his hair “breaks the dress code.” The teenager has been growing his locks since he was in the seventh grade at Barbers Hill Independent School District in Mont Belvieu, Texas. But right before winter break, Arnold and his mother were informed by the school that he would have to cut them or face suspension.
“They say you can’t get around the dress code by having it up. We’re at a standstill,” said Arnold’s mother to Fox 26 in Houston.
According to the school district, the dress code says that male students can’t have their hair “gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below” the collar, earlobes and eyes when let down.” However, the family believes the policy was recently changed.
“Never cut your locks DeAndre Arnold,” tweeted Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
“This is racial discrimination. And it’s played out every day across our country — in workplaces, schools, sports — in ways that are subtle and in ways that are overt. I’m proud that CA became the first state to ban hair discrimination. Other states should follow,” wrote California Governor Gavin Newsom on his social media account.
In December of 2018, a similar incident took place in New Jersey when a video was released of Andrew Johnson, the black teenage wrestler that was forced to choose between forfeiting his match or cutting off his locks.
Telling wrestler Andrew Johnson to cut his dreads or he wouldn't be able to compete is horrendous. It's racism, intimidation, ignorance, disrespect, embarrassment and belittling all rolled into one ([email protected] )
— The Shadow League (@ShadowLeague) December 21, 2018
The story made national news and started a much-needed conversation about the racism of black hair.