DeAndre Arnold, a Texas high school student who was suspended from school because of his dreadlocks and told he couldn’t attend graduation unless he cut them, attended the Oscars with Hair Love director Matthew A. Cherry.
What We Know:
- Arnold appeared on the red carpet alongside Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver, the film’s director and producer. The short film follows a man, who also has dreadlocks, learning how to do his daughter’s hair for the first time.
- Cherry, a former NFL player who wrote, produced and directed the viral short film, said that he “wanted to normalize and celebrate black hair” with the project.
- Cherry said on the red carpet before the show, “It means the world to have him here with us, we wanted people to see how good of a kid he is, but also there’s no reason people should be policing our hair.”
- During an appearance on Ellen late last month, Arnold told host Ellen DeGeneres that he had refused to cut his hair, citing his appreciation for Trinidadian culture. He told DeGeneres, “It’s part of our culture and our heritage and I really wish the school would be kind of be open to other cultures and just at least try to let us tell some things. Don’t just shut us out.”
- Hair Love won an Oscar for best animated short Sunday night. In his Oscars acceptance speech, Cherry mentioned the CROWN Act, which stands for “Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair.” The CROWN Act aims to protect against discrimination based on hair texture and protective styles, according to its website. It is already a law in California, New York and New Jersey.
- Supporters of Arnold claim Barbers Hill High School’s policy is discriminatory and that it shouldn’t dictate whether the 18-year-old should be allowed to walk at graduation.
- Arnold said before the Oscars, “Hopefully, I’m the catalyst for more cultural acknowledgement and less cultural ignorance so that’s my goal here.”
“I’m standing strong because of the support system I have behind me,” Arnold said.