Kaden Bradford is now the second Black Texan teen being told to cut off his dreadlocks or else he won’t graduate.
ABC News reported the 16-year-old has been on suspension since last week according to his mother Cindy Bradford because he refuses to cut his hair. Kaden is Trinidadian and it is part of their culture to wear their hair in this manner. It is a celebration of identity and culture.
Cindy stated that her son has worn his hair in its natural state for years. She said it only became an issue last year and officials at his son warned him about pulling it back. If he did not do so, it would be in violation of their hair policy that dictates hair for males must be “gathered or worn in a style that would allow the hair to extend below”.
He pinned his dreads back to comply and Cindy offered to have her son’s hair braided but that did not satisfy administrators who wanted his dreads cut off. Cindy said that the school’s principal, Rick Kana, told her that “the only way Kaden can come back to school is if he cuts his hair.”
“He had [dreads] last year,” she said. “He took a headband, and pushed them off his shoulders. [The school] said if he kept them up like that it was no problem.”
She is now considering suing, believing that her son is being targeted due to his race just as his cousin, DeAndre Arnold. The senior at Barbers Hill Independent School has been at the center of controversy for similar reasons. He drew mainstream press after being told that he would not be able to walk during graduation unless he cut his dreads.
“My son is having the same issue (as Deandre),” Bradford said. “He’s a sophomore, he’s been growing his dreads out since sixth grade.”
Houston Texans wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who also wears dreadlocks, tweeted in support of Arnold.
Never cut your locks Deandre Arnold.
— Deandre Hopkins (@DeAndreHopkins) January 22, 2020
On Friday, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., expressed his support for the young teens, tweeting, “No one should be punished for expressing who they are.” Booker also introduced The CROWN Act in New Jersey that will ban discrimination based on hair.
School officials have denied that race has played a factor.
“The policy is not about cornrows or ethnicity,” Poole said. “There is no injustice being done.”
Cindy and her sister Sandy Arnold, DeAndre’s mother, are considering lawsuits because their children have done nothing wrong. Arnold said the school “never called me because Deandre was being disrespectful or because of his grades, but because of his hair.”