Weeks after news hit that a Black teen from Texas was suspended from high school and his graduation threatened for wearing dreadlocks, he was asked to be a guest on the Ellen Show and got the surprise of a lifetime.
A $20,000 college scholarship.
Before he was shocked by this amazing generosity, DeGeneres reassured him to not be nervous about being on television.
“I’m sure this is not easy or comfortable for you. “But I want you to just relax and know that I’m here for you.”
DeGeneres continued by admitting she was shocked as to why Arnold’s hair was even an issue in the first place.
“That’s why you’re here because I don’t understand this…”You get good grades,” DeGeneres said. “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.
As we previously reported, Arnold was suspended and told he couldn’t graduate in three months if he didn’t cut his hair. According to Arnold, he has worn dreads for years and has always followed the rules, but at this moment, he refuses to alter his hairstyle. However, this refusal might mean his only options are in-school suspension or an alternative school for children with behavioral issues, NBC noted.
And while his mother, Sandy Arnold, called this racial discrimination and has threatened to take this to a federal court, officials from Barbers Hill High School were clear on their stance: “There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair. Our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years,” said Superintendent Greg Poole.
Meanwhile, on the Ellen Show, DeGeneres asked if girls had long hair.
Arnold replied: “There’s plenty of girls with long hair at my school. Like, if girls can have long hair, why can’t I have long hair?”
That’s a great question.
Arnold also explained that his culture plays a role in his hair.
It’s really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad. 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,” he says of his school whose Black population only accounts for a measly 3.1 percent.
While DeGeneres may not have gotten the school to take him back, she, along with Alicia Keys, presented him with a $20,000 scholarship for college.
“I want to tell you that, I couldn’t believe the story when I heard it,” Keys told Arnold. “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.”
Arnold has plans on becoming a veterinarian.
While this is such an amazing ending to this story, it’s still infuriating that Arnold had to go through this in the first place. Even worse? Right now, in 48 states it is legal to discriminate against natural hairstyles at school and in the workplace. While New York and California have both passed The Crown Act, it’s not a federal law across the board, but it can be if we speak out.
Remember: Our hair shouldn’t be looked at a distraction and it has nothing to do with learning. Most importantly, how they choose to wear their hair shouldn’t be used against our Black girls and boys to stop them from succeeding.
Ellen DeGeneres Surprises Black Teen Suspended For His Locs With $20,000 Scholarship was originally published on hellobeautiful.com