Caribbean Roots Teen Suspended For Dreads Surprised With US$20,000 Scholarship

Grammy Award-winning artist Alicia Keys showed her support by surprising DeAndre Arnold, and together, Ellen and Alicia give him a check for $20,000 to put towards college, courtesy of Shutterfly.Michael Rozman / Warner Bros.

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Jan. 30, 2020: The Houston, Texas Caribbean roots teen whose story of being suspended from school unless he cut his dreads went viral, was yesterday given a US $20,000 scholarship on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

DeAndre Arnold, a 17-year-old senior at Barbers Hill High School in Mont Belvieu, appeared as a guest on the show and shared his story with Ellen.

He shared that he won’t be allowed to return to school or attend his graduation ceremony unless he cuts his dreadlocks even as DeGeneres appealed directly to the school to change its mind.

Arnold’s father is from Trinidad and Tobago and he 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.

On the show, he reiterated that his dreads are part of his Trinidadian culture.

“It’s really important to me because my dad is from Trinidad,” he told her, adding that his dreadlocks are part of his culture and heritage. “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.”

Arnold, who has been out of school for weeks, said if he doesn’t cut his hair, his only options are in-school suspension or an alternative school for children with behavioral issues.

DeGeneres then invited singer Alicia Keys on stage to preset the $20,000 scholarship from Shutterfly to Arnold, who plans to become a veterinarian.

“I want to tell you that, I couldn’t believe the story when I heard it,” Keys told a stunned Arnold as she hugged him. “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.”