By Silke Jasso, Rare
A school district in Texas that “touts its excellence” has now been accused of racism. The school is embroiled in controversy about race, discrimination, and dreadlocks. On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Black Lives Matter Activist Ashton Woods stood beside Deandre Arnold and his family as they addressed the Barbers Hill ISD, school board. Deandre was suspended and is not allowed to walk at graduation in three months unless he cuts his dreadlocks.
Woods believes the school’s dress code is “designed by white people for white people and is damaging to Black bodies.” Gary Monroe, with the United Urban Alumni Association, stated “This is a Black and white issue. Deandre and his family should not have to go through this. But I expect it from a board that has zero diversity.”
DREADLOCK DEBATE | @BHISD says Deandre Arnold must cut his dreadlocks if he wants to walk at graduation. The senior's family says they're considering legal options if the district doesn't change its policy. https://t.co/pOqb4r03FE#KHOU11 #HTownRush pic.twitter.com/8RhuXJ7fp8
— Brandi Smith | KHOU (@Brandi_Smith_TV) January 21, 2020
The district did fight back stating that their decision to suspend him is not about race. Superintendent Greg Poole noted there is no dress code policy that actually prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing hair. He stated, “Our policy limits the length. It’s been that way for 30 years.”
Several speakers agreed with the district and pleaded with board members not to make any exception with the rules, but the majority don’t believe the district’s explanation. Deandre’s family is hoping his hair doesn’t hinder the teens’ future, and they vow to fight the decision until the end.
Deandre’s mother, Sandy Arnold, stated the Texas teen is an A and B student who had dual credit classes and is not a problem to the school. She also noted his dreadlocks have been a concern at the school for several months. School officials previously sent him to in-school suspension after the teen refused to cut his hair, citing his Trinidadian culture. Monroe noted the district has 48 hours to come up with a “resolution” or they are taking the situation to federal court.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time a student is reprimanded for wearing dreadlocks at school. Just last year, high school wrestler Andrew Johnson from Buena Regional High School was given an ultimatum during his wrestling match. Johnson was forced to cut his hair right then and there in front of the crowd or lose the match. Not only did the school received heavy criticism, but the wrestling referee, Alan Maloney, was labeled as racist.
Epitome of a team player ⬇️
A referee wouldn't allow Andrew Johnson of Buena @brhschiefs to wrestle with a cover over his dreadlocks. It was either an impromptu haircut, or a forfeit. Johnson chose the haircut, then won by sudden victory in OT to help spark Buena to a win. pic.twitter.com/f6JidKNKoI
— Mike Frankel (@MikeFrankelJSZ) December 20, 2018
This article originally appeared in Rare.