“Southern heritage” strikes again, and one California mom is upset after her 15-year-old son was called racist because he decided to wear a Confederate-battle-flag sweatshirt to school last week.
According to the Visalia Times-Delta, the mother of the student said that she pulled her children from Redwood High School last Friday after several threats were made. What made matters worse, she said, was a Snapchat photo that began appearing of her son with the caption “flex #whitepower.”
The photo quickly made its way to Facebook and other social media sites. The student’s mom said that he did not post the photo; nor did he approve or even know that the hashtag would be used.
“The only reason the picture exploded was because of the hashtag used,” the mother told the news site. “To me, this is ignorance. These people don’t know my son, he’s not racist.”
The incident started to unravel Friday when the student was stopped by another group of students who began asking why he was wearing the sweatshirt. An administrator who noticed the crowd promised to look into the situation and then asked the group to head to class.
“In regard to dress code, with 2,300 students, we don’t always catch every kid,” Redwood Principal Matt Shin told the Times-Delta. “Before lunch, there were no reports to the office of any disruption to others.”
Parents, however, told the newspaper that there were several disputes on campus with the student.
Shin, however, said that when he spoke to the student, the boy insisted that it was about Southern pride.
Not sure why a Californian is wearing the Confederate flag, but apparently “family.”
“He assured he wasn’t racist and explained he’s very much into the heritage of the South and has family there,” Shin said.
The student ended up leaving school early out of concerns for his safety.
And that’s when his mother dropped the line also reiterating that it was not about slavery, and quipping, I kid you not, “Everyone one learns history differently.”
“The reason he wore what he wore is that the flag represents more than slavery, it represents a lot of other things,” his mother said. “He’s not being racist. Everyone learns history differently.”
The mother insisted that the sweatshirt represented freedom and constitutional rights to the young man.
Superintendent Todd Oto said that the Visala Unified School District dress code could be interpreted several ways and “generally, student dress code is like language, it’s a free speech issue.”
However, Oto noted that if the clothing does cause issues on campus, administrators do intervene.
As a precaution, the boy also stayed home from school at the beginning of the week.
“It’s not only kids making threats; it’s adults making threats,” his mother said. “For me, as a mother, I’m concerned for his safety. He’s just a 15-year-old boy.”
That same Monday, Redwood High School sent out a statement reinforcing its stance that the school should be a safe and inclusive space:
School administration has met with [the] student and his parent about the incident that took place on Friday and have worked to resolve the incident, as well as to ensure that there will be no more similar incidents like it in the future,” the statement read. “This entire incident is an educational reminder to all of us how the interpretations of different symbols and expressions can vary from person to person. It’s also a reminder to us that schools should always be a safe and inclusive place for students to learn and interact with one another.
Read more at the Visalia Times-Delta.