Students and Staff Rally Behind Black Principal of Massachusetts Middle School After He Faces Racist Backlash for Condemning the Confederate Flag

Desmond Caldwell, principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School
Desmond Caldwell, principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School
Screenshot: Desmond Caldwell

White folks are so desperate to be oppressed that a simple plea to be considerate of the feelings of others is seen as a slight against their constitutional right to be an asshole. Staff and students at a Massachusetts middle school rallied behind their principal on Wednesday after he faced racist backlash for asking students not to display the Confederate flag during virtual learning.

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According to Masslive, Desmond Caldwell, principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Northampton, Mass., had received concerns from students that they felt discomfort after seeing Confederate flags displayed by some of their peers during virtual learning. To address these concerns, Caldwell sent a video to students and teachers explaining the racist history associated with the flag, and asked for students not to have it displayed during virtual or in-person learning.

From Masslive:

In the video, Caldwell described how he had recently dealt with multiple cases of people wearing, posting and sharing imagery that contained the Confederate flag. He said he had no intention of debating that the Confederate flag is protected under the First Amendment, but said he also would not debate that the flag has ties to racist beliefs and organizations.

“What complicates the Confederate flag is that not all who carry or fly the flag do so from a place of hate. Yet many hate groups fly the Confederate flag,” he said, while providing background on the flag’s history.

In explaining his request to not display the Confederate flag, Caldwell said he was not doing so to step on anyone’s rights, but to “help create a safer and less-distracting” learning environment. He further asserted that he wasn’t accusing anyone of intentionally hurting others, but asked members of the school community to consider why they felt it necessary to display the flag when it carries hurtful connotations.

Sounds easy-peasy, lemon-squeezy right? Wrong.

A select group took umbrage with the fact that a Black man had the sheer fucking audacity to ask “hey, why not be more considerate?” A Facebook page went live on Monday called the “JFK White Student Union,” and that went exactly how you think it did. The page, claiming to be run by a student at the school, called Caldwell an “anti-American tyrant,” and added that “across the U.S. whites are under attack.”

You mean the group of people who managed to storm the U.S. Capitol and mostly walk away with their lives? Those folks are under attack? This dude’s last name must be Armstrong because that’s a stretch.

The page quickly disappeared and according to John Provost, superintendent of Northampton Public Schools, the Northampton Police Department has launched an investigation. While the page was alleged to be run by a student, Provost has said they’ve been unable to verify if that was true.

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In response to the page, a group of 200 students held an anti-racist demonstration outside of the school on Wednesday in support of Caldwell. The demonstration was organized by Cecelia Ripley, Julia Albro-Fisher and Julian Clark, three students at the school.

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Caldwell received an overwhelming amount of support from both students, faculty, and Provost as well.

“As superintendent, I wholeheartedly support Principal Caldwell’s work to interrupt the racism inherent in displays of the Confederate flag,” Provost said in a statement. “With a teacher’s heart, he has approached this issue with empathy, respect, and love for his students. He has sought to build a school culture where community and dialogue can flourish.”

DISCUSSION

By
TrumpsTinyHands

In Masasachusetts, a state that had a proud history of fighting against the confederacy..... this horse shit.

To be fair, this is in Northampton in Western Mass, the area of the state that is more like Kentucky than Boston.