Ellen DeGeneres gives incredible gift to black teen told to cut his dreadlocks or miss graduation
Ellen DeGeneres has given an incredible gift to a black teen who was told to cut his dreadlocks or miss graduation.
Eighteen-year-old Deandre Arnold has had dreadlocks for a decade. However, when he returned to school after the Christmas holidays, they suddenly became an issue when the school handbook was changed. Until then, long hair was permitted on boys, providing that it was tied back, but that was suddenly no longer the case.
Now, despite being a model student with aspirations to go to college to study veterinary medicine, Deandre has been told that unless he cuts his dreadlocks, he will miss graduation, and faces a limited and isolated education until he does so.
The TV host shared a clip from the segment on Twitter, simply writing: "Andre deserves better."
This is the incredible gift Ellen gave Deandre:
"I'm sure this is not easy or comfortable for you," she said to the teen who had been catapulted into the spotlight. "But I want you to just relax and know that I'm here for you."
"That's why you're here," she continued. "Because I don't understand this."
The teen has been out of school for weeks, with the principal informing him that he is suspended until he cuts his dreadlocks.
"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."
Watch a full news report on the incident below:
The teenager explained that he has never deviated from the school's dress code, showing Ellen that, after the Christmas break, it required male students to ensure that their hair is above their earlobes, out of their eyes and not on their shoulders.
"Every day I would go to school, I would be in dress code," he told DeGeneres. "But the thing with them is, if it was let down, I would be out of dress code."
The host asked if the female students were allowed to have long hair, and Deandre said yes: "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?"
DeGeneres agreed. There should be no differentiation between the sexes.
"I just personally think you should be able to wear your hair however you want, especially if there's girls with long hair," she said. "What's the difference if girls have long hair and if guys have long hair?"
The host then asked Deandre why his dreadlocks meant so much to him, and he explained that they were an important part of his cultural identity.
"It's really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad," he told her. "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."
After this, the host enlisted the help of Alicia Keys to present the teenager with a cheque for $20,000 to help cover the cost of his college education.
"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."