A Texas school district suspended a black student and told him he would not walk at graduation this spring unless he cuts his dreadlocks — and the controversy erupted at a public meeting on Martin Luther King Day. The Barbers Hill ISD school board in Mont Belvieu said this is not an issue of race, but many local activists say otherwise, CBS Houston affiliate KHOU-TV reports.
Activists stood by the student, DeAndre Arnold, after news of his suspension got out. "This is a black and white issue," Gary Monroe, with the United Urban Alumni Association, said. "DeAndre should not have to — he should not have to go through this. His family should not have to go through this. But I expect it from a board that has zero diversity."
Monroe said if the board doesn't resolve the issue soon, the United Urban Alumni Association will take the case to the federal court.
"The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to black bodies," Black Lives Matter activist Ashton Woods told KHOU-TV.
Arnold's family hopes his hair does not derail his future, and they have vowed to fight the school district's decision to the end.
"We're here for DeAndre, but it's about more than that," his mother, Sandy Arnold, said. "This is about all the other DeAndres that could come through Barbers Hill."
Superintendent Greg Poole said the decision is not about dreadlocks or race, just about the length of the teen's hair. "There is no dress code policy that prohibits any cornrow or any other method of wearing of the hair," Poole said. "Our policy limits the length. It's been that way for 30 years."
Some speakers at the school board meeting supported the ruling, but KHOU-TV reports most did not buy the district's explanation.