This Caribbean Roots Teen Is Going To The Oscars

DeAndre Arnold's roots extend to Trinidad.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, FRI. Feb. 7, 2020: It’s Oscar weekend and a Caribbean-roots teen is set to walk the red carpet with his mother thanks to Gabrielle Union, Matthew A. Cherry, the of director of the Oscar-nominated “Hair Love” and the Love Dove team.

Houston-born DeAndre Arnold, whose suspension from school over his refusal to cut his dreads, has pushed him into national fame, will attend the Academy Awards with Union and Cherry.

Dwyane Wade and his wife, actress Gabrielle Union, are two of the producers of “Hair Love.”

“It’s truly an honor to have the platform to be able to invite Deandre and his family as our guest to the Oscars,” Cherry told CNN. “Deandre is such a good kid, and he shouldn’t be punished for his hair. And we love that he didn’t bend to the pressure to cut it. We think his hair is beautiful and this is the least we could do to support him and show him love. Looking forward to meeting him.”

Dove is providing “full wardrobe and glam for the big night,” Cherry said.

Cherry’s film follows a black father who is attempting to do his daughter’s hair for the first time. He launched a Kickstarter campaign in 2017 to get the film made. It went viral, and he has a “Hair Love” children’s book with illustrations by Vashti Harrison.

Arnold, a 17-year-old senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, about 30 miles east of Houston, told NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston that his hair had been in compliance with school rules until recently, when he faced in-school suspension after he refused to cut it.

Arnold’s father is from Trinidad and Tobago and he has said he’s worn dreadlocks for years like a lot of men in his family and always followed the school’s dress code by tying them up.

“I really like that part of Trinidadian culture,” he told the station. “So, I mean I really embrace that.”

But the school says he can’t walk in his high school graduation ceremony unless he cuts his dreadlocks to meet the school district’s dress code instituted after the Christmas break and three months before graduation.

Now Arnold told CBS he never expected all of this.

“It’s crazy. Like, I never thought that people like DWade and Gabrielle Union would be, like, on my side,” he told NPR.

Last week, he went on Ellen DeGeneres’ show, and he talked about why he won’t cut his hair. And he received a $20,000 scholarship on the how.

This week, members of the Texas Legislative Black Caucus introduced an act that bans discrimination against natural hairstyles.

“The Texas Legislative Black Caucus supports DeAndre, and the other students across Texas, and will discuss plans to introduce and pass the CROWN Act during the next legislative session,” read a statement from the office of Rep. Ron Reynolds.

The CROWN Act, which stands for “Create A Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair,” is a law that prohibits discrimination based on hair texture and styles, commonly associated with race.

It was first introduced in California in January 2019 and first passed in New York six months later.