Texas teen DeAndre Arnold was told by his school to cut his dreadlocks or miss his graduation ceremony. He refused to do so. Recently, on The Ellen Show, Ellen DeGeneres and singer Alicia Keys surprised the teen with a US$20,000 scholarship.
Since then, there has been an outpouring of support on social media for his plight. Former AGT host Gabrielle Union has invited Arnold to the 2020 Academy Awards on Feb. 9 in Los Angeles, California.
“It’s really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad.”— DeAndre Arnold
According to NBC News, Union expressed her support and extended her Oscars invitation to Arnold via a video aired last week on CBS.
“Hey DeAndre, I’m Gabrielle Union and I am one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated short film Hair Love,” Union said. She went on to say, “We heard about your story, and you just wanting to wear your hair, the way you want, at school. And all this scrutiny that you faced and how unwavering you have been in standing up for yourself. We also knew that we had to get involved.” Union’s husband retired NBA star Dwyane Wade, and Matthew Cherry, the director of Hair Love also addressed Arnold in the video.
To attend, DeAndre along with his mother, Sandy, will have all expenses paid and will be receiving red carpet treatment.
Barbers Hill High School, which Arnold attends, wanted him to cut his hair to conform to the school district’s dress code. Arnold refused to cut his dreadlocks because it is a part of his culture and heritage. “It’s really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad,” he told DeGeneres. “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.”