Q: I need advice, Dr.Umar. My son had an altercation with a white student that was wearing a confederate flag at school. The principal said there is nothing he can do about the student wearing the flag. Wearing the flag isn't against school policy. I'm in the South. How do I represent my child?
A: The principal is right that the White Child has a 1st Amendment Freedom of Speech & Expression right that allows him to wear his politically charged clothing. However, the courts have also confirmed that the symbols a child wears cannot "cause a substantial disruption to the educational process." In other words, if that shirt interferes with school climate and ability of other children to feel respected, protected & valued at that school then the principal or district has the ability to stop the child from wearing it.
I agree with you and your son, particularly given the recent events in America, that the wearing of a confederate flag by a White Child in a public school "causes a substantial disruption to the educational process" for not only your child but all Black children in that school. It's time for you to write a letter to the superintendent alerting them that the flag in question represents the dehumanization, murder, & oppression of Black folk. The confederate flag is offensive to Black children; and therefore is "causing a substantial disruption to the educational process." Please try and get other black parents to sign the letter with you making this a class action matter thereby tripling the power of your protest.The National Independent Black Parent Association (NIBPA) is here to support you. We may need to hold a protest by the community against the school district; I will certainly be there to support it and offer my remarks. This is a serious issue, please don't let it go. You need to start a petition ASAP gathering as many names of parents & community members, not just in that school, but the whole district, as this is a district issue, who feel that the wearing of the confederate flag in public school constitutes an act of disrespect that makes it difficult for Black children to feel included and focus upon their learning.
Please keep me posted