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DeAndre Arnold's Crusade Will Impact Gender Equality as Much as Natural Hair Rules

by Todd A. Smith

 

 

Gender Equality Means Actual Gender Equality


Texas high school senior DeAndre Arnold probably never saw himself as a crusader for gender equality.


However, that is just what he is.


Not only is he a crusader for natural hair for the African-American community, his crusade will have a bigger impact thanks to some high profile celebrities that have joined his courageous cause.


When Arnold first made local news in Houston, my opinion on the situation was mixed.


While I obviously support the right for African-Americans to wear their hair naturally as God grew it out of their heads because to not do so would personify racism and White supremacy, I did not initially run to his defense.


My issue revolved around the fact that the Barbers Hill Independent School District wanted Arnold to cut his hair not because of the texture.


They wanted him to cut it because of the length.


I thought rules are rules and while it sucked, I did not see a legal argument that would support his cause until Arnold appeared on the talk show, “Ellen.”


After his appearance on “Ellen,” I saw Arnold’s crusade in broader terms than even he probably intended, making me support the young brother, wholeheartedly.


Many so-called feminists and activists have misused the term gender equality over the years.


When someone asks should women receive equal pay with their male counterparts, the answer is an obvious yes.


Who would not agree that a woman should get equal pay to a man if they bring in equal value and have equal credentials?


I would argue that if a woman brings in more results than her male counterparts she should get paid more and vice versa if the man brings in more value than his female counterparts.


But many of those same so-called feminists get mad when the thought of requiring women to register for the military draft comes up.


After all, if men have to register for the Selective Service when they reach 18 years old, why shouldn’t 18-year-old women?


That would represent gender equality, right?


But many women preaching gender equality really do not want gender equality.


Many just want what benefits women at that time.


If it benefits women then we need gender equality and we need to rid our society of old gender norms.


If it does not benefit women then those same women want to return to old stereotypical gender roles.


However, when talk show host/comedienne Ellen DeGeneres defended the Houston area teenager and his desire to wear his dreadlocks long she used the argument behind gender equality to make her point in Arnold’s favor.


If girls can wear their hair long at his school, why do boys have to cut their hair if it gets past their shoulders?


While Arnold’s arguments and the support of celebrities have not swayed Barbers Hill Independent School District to change their dress code, his efforts inevitably will change the rules.


There is no way a school district in 2020 can have two separate rules for males and females.


Not at a time when people claim to support gender equality.


Several years ago, an LGBT student in Houston’s Aldine Independent School District wanted to wear high-heeled shoes to school because he felt more comfortable in those shoes because of his gender identity.


The problem with his argument was that the female students at Aldine Independent School District schools could not even wear high-heeled shoes.


What he was essentially asking Aldine to do was to have three sets of rules for their students: one set of rules for females, one set of rules for males and a special set of rules for him.


Many LGBT activists at the time argued about gay rights and equality failing to realize that prohibiting him from wearing high-heeled shoes epitomized equality because the same rules for girls applied also to him as an LGBT male.


Although Arnold might not benefit from his cause before graduation, thanks to the support of Hollywood he will get an experience that many of his peers and classmates will never experience.


Barbers Hill ISD said that Arnold could not participate in graduation unless he cuts his dreadlocks, leading him to transfer to another school district.


But Arnold will get to attend the Academy Awards thanks to actress Gabrielle Union.


Union and her husband Dwayne Wade created a video to surprise Arnold with the Oscars invitation.


“Hey DeAndre, I’m Gabrielle Union and I am one of the producers of the Oscar-nominated animated film ‘Hair Love,’” Union stated. “When we heard about your story and you just wanting to wear your hair the way you want at school, and all the scrutiny that you have faced and how unwavering you have been in standing up for yourself, we also knew that we had to get involved.”


Wade added, “We wanted to do something special for you. You and your mother Sandy are the official guests of the Oscar-nominated team behind ‘Hair Love’ at the 2020 Academy Awards. Get ready, you going to the Oscars, bud.”


The Dove toiletry company will pay for the awards ceremony tickets, wardrobe and glam.


Wade and Union will pay for travel and hotel costs.


Furthermore, Arnold received $20,000 while on “Ellen.”


R&B musician Alicia Keys presented Arnold with the $20,000 check on “Ellen.”


Arnold said, “It’s crazy—like, I never thought that people like D. Wade and Gabrielle Union would be on my side. The film is about hair love, and me and my hair kind of grew up together in a way. It’s like we are best friends. It really just means so much that we get an invite like this. It just means the world to us, honestly.”


And it means the world to Arnold’s supporters that he had the strength to challenge the status quo and truly fight for gender equality, despite what gender it benefits.


This article was published on Friday 07 February, 2020.
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