The creators and producers of the Oscar-nominated short film Hair Love have reportedly invited Texas high school student DeAndre Arnold, who was suspended over wearing his locs at school, to The Oscars.
Matthew A. Cherry, who created the film, as well as Dwyane Wade and Gabrielle Union, who produced the animated film, want to celebrate both Arnold’s heritage and pride in the face of unnecessary and racist backlash over his hairstyle.
"We love the way that you carry yourself and we wanted to do something special for you," Wade told Arnold in the invite. "You and your mother Sandy are the official guests of the Oscar-nominated team behind Hair Love at the 2020 Academy Awards."
Cherry also informed Arnold that they will provide the wardrobe “and glam” for the “big night” for both him and his mother.
"We've all been so inspired by your story and this is the very least we can do to thank you for standing up for yourself and for your right to wear your natural hair at school," Cherry told him.
On CBS This Morning, Cherry said he wants to bring awareness to Arnold's story and the CROWN Act, which bans the discrimination of people based on their hair.
"Just hearing his story, it really just represented everything we were trying to do with the short film, Hair Love,” he said. “We really wanted to just normalize black hair, normalize us.”
The CROWN Act has been passed in California, New York and New Jersey, and according to Cherry, it should be federal law.
"If this law was in Texas, this situation with DeAndre wouldn't happen," he said.
Arnold describes his invitation to The Oscars as “a surreal moment.”
"It's hard to take in," he said told CBS This Morning. "I've got excitement and then it's just like, 'Is this really happening? Am I in a dream?' ... it blows my mind that people that have so much voice, they're on my side and they're with me. I love that. I appreciate that. I really do."
He also praised his mother, Sandy.
"My mom deserves any special treatment she gets,” Arnold said. “She deserves this. She's been working so hard on the computer day and night, just to try and help me get my word out. When you have people like this in your corner, there's no way you can lose. No way."
The Oscars will air on Sunday, February 9 at 8:00 p.m. EST on ABC.