On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a school district in Texas found itself receiving a heap of criticism for its hairstyle code.
Deandre Arnold was informed that in order to graduate he would have to cut off his locs. Now, his family, community members and activists are standing by his side, calling out the outrageous policy.
"The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to Black bodies," Black Lives Matter activist Ashton Woods said of Barbers Hill Independence School District’s enforcement of their rule, according to KHOU 11.
Gary Monroe with the United Urban Alumni Association says the policy specifically targets people of color.
"This is a Black and white issue," he said. "Deandre (and) his family should not have to go through this. But I expect it from a board that has zero diversity."
The district disagrees. "There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair," Superintendent Greg Poole said, according to KHOU 11. "Our policy limits the length. It's been that way for 30 years."
On top of the ultimatum, Barbers Hill High School reportedly punished Deadre with an in-school suspension. According to his mother, Sandy Arnold, Deandre’s family is from Trinidad and a lot of men in his culture grow locs.
“This is a part of who he is: our beliefs,” she said, according to Click2Houston. She also claimed that the dress code of “off the shoulders, above the earlobes, and out of the eyes” changed just recently.
“They say that even (when) my hair is up if it were to be down it would be not in compliance with the dress code. However, I don’t take it down in the school,” Deandre said, according to Click2Houston.
"We're here for Deandre, but it's about more than that," Sandy Arnold told KHOU 11. "This is about all the other Deandres that could come through Barbers Hill." She says Deandre’s family will fight this policy in court if it goes that far. "They have 48 hours to come up with a resolution or we're taking this to federal court.”
The Barbers Hill School District released a written statement regarding their policy: “We do have a community supported hair length policy & have had for decades. Barbers Hill is a state leader with high expectations in all areas!”
Photo: PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou