Exclusive: Teen Denied Job Because Of Locs Speaks Out About Another Texas Student Prohibited From Attending Graduation Over Hair
Deandre Arnold was suspended from his Texas school because of the length of the locs.
January 24, 2020 at 10:44 pm
Kerion Washington was denied a job at Six Flags because of his locs last summer. But the Texas teenager vowed to never change despite what others think about his hair. Washington now has the same message for Deandre Arnold, another Texas teen who was suspended from school last week because of his hairstyle and told that he can't walk at his graduation unless he cuts his hair.
“You believed in yourself and you did what you have to do,” Washington said to Arnold in an interview with Blavity. “Don’t ever change yourself because somebody told you to do it.”
Washington said he was "shocked" to hear of Arnold's story.
He said he shared his story after being denied from the Six Flags job and received support from many people.
“I’m not the only one that dealt with it. I’m just the only one that said something about it,” the 18-year-old said. “And I got so many people that agreed with my way of doing things.”
Washington’s mother, Karis, shared her son's story on social media when it first happened.
The teen’s friends also posted the story on Instagram and made it go viral. That’s when the teenager got a job offer he never expected.
“I kept pushing until I get a better job and [was] eventually blessed with an offer to model,” Washington said.
Although California and New York passed laws last year to outlaw discrimination due to natural hairstyles, the problem is still being seen around the country. In December, two New York girls were expelled from dance school because their braids did not adhere to the school's hair policy, as Blavity previously reported.
On January 13, Indigenous activist and attorney Tara Houska was reportedly harassed by a TSA agent who grabbed the Native American’s braids like reins and said “Giddy Up.”
In the latest case involving Arnold, school officials are claiming it's a long-standing policy that has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. But others disagree.
"The dress code is designed by white people for white people and is damaging to Black bodies," Black Lives Matter activist Ashton Woods said.
Activists joined the Arnold family in a meeting with the Barbers Hill school board on Monday, asking administrators to reconsider their stance and calling it an unnecessary hindrance to his education that could also affect other students in the future.
"We're here for Deandre, but it's about more than that, this is about all the other Deandres that could come through Barbers Hill," Sandy Arnold, Deandre's mother, said.
After hearing Arnold’s story, Washington said he is shocked to see the same thing still happening to other Black teenagers.
“My problem happened back then, but it’s still going — almost a year,” Washington said.
The 18-year-old model added that he is now meeting with agencies in California and looking to do bigger things.