By: Isaiah Robinson
From being told to remove his dreadlocks or don’t attend graduation, to walking on the red carpet at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards, De’Andre Arnold is proudly showing everyone he will not be bullied into chopping off his hair, which is now the center of national attention.
“It’s like, look at me,” the Texas teen said in an interview with the New York Times. “The little kid with dreads is at the Oscars. While all the people at home are mad? I’m at the Oscars.”
De’Andre was invited to the Academy Awards by former NBA player Dwyane Wade and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, who were producers of the animated short film “Hair Love,” which took home Oscar gold.
The Wades paid for travel and accommodations for De’Andre and his mom, while Dove paid for their hair, makeup, wardrobe and tickets.
The touching animated short features a black father who learns how to do his young daughter’s hair while his wife is in the hospital. The film was written, produced and directed by Matthew A. Cherry, a former pro football player, and co-produced by Karen Rupert Toliver. The film also features the voice of Issa Rae.
When asked about what excited him the most about going to the Oscars, De’Andre said, “I’m really excited to see all the celebrities, just being close to them you know. Just breathe the same air as them, I guess.”
De’Andre’s story grabbed headlines when the Barbers Hill Independent School District told him he could not walk with the graduating class if he did not change his hair. Even though he has worn his dreadlocks throughout high school, he was suspended in December.
De’Andre, who is African American with Trinidadian descent, has been growing his dreads for years because of his culture, and believes the policy is sexist and a violation of his civil rights.
The teen’s parents removed him from Barbers Hill High School and placed him in another school.
De’Andre has gained support from Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and Cal. Governor Gavin Newsom. And during the Oscars, he received a shoutout from Cherry during his acceptance speech.
Congratulations De’Andre! Continue to celebrate the beauty, uniqueness and power of your hair.