Ellen DeGeneres has given a $20,000 scholarship to a Texas black teen who was told to cut his dread or miss graduation.
DeAndre Arnold, a senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, appeared in an episode of The Ellen Show that aired Wednesday.
He told DeGeneres he was informed he was in violation of the dress code after the Christmas break.
“Every day I would go to school, I would be in the dress code. But the thing with them is, if it was let down, I would be out of dress code,” he told DeGeneres.
Arnold said he always followed the dress code because he kept his hair off his shoulders, above his earlobes and out of his eyes, by tying up his dreadlocks.
Arnold, who has been attending school in the Barbers Hill independent school district for 10 years, said he was suspended over the length of his dreadlocks and told by his principal that he needed to cut his hair to return to school.
“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,” DeGeneres said.
“I just personally think you should be able to wear your hair however you want, especially if there are girls with long hair,” DeGeneres who thinks the policy was unfair said. “What’s the difference if girls have long hair and if guys have long hair?”
“It’s really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad,” Arnold said, adding that his dreadlocks are part of his culture and heritage. “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.”
Arnold has already been out of school for weeks and he noted if he doesn’t cut his hair, his only options are in-school suspension or an alternative school for children with behavioral issues.
DeGeneres after hearing Arnold’s thoughts urged the school officials “to do the right thing.”
“I am begging you. This kid is a good kid. He deserves to graduate, to walk with all the other kids. I just am urging you to do the right thing. Please,” she said.
Surprisingly, singer Alicia Keys came on stage to award Arnold a $20,000 scholarship for college.
The singer said to Arnold, “I want to tell you that, I couldn’t believe the story when I heard it 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.”
Barbers Hill High School and the Barbers Hill Independent School District are yet to respond or comment on the issue.