Predominately white schools are not always safe places for Black students.
Sometimes, those Black students who express their pro-Blackness will be met with a special kind of white fragility that also extends to the policies of their schools. Also, there’s just bound to be a lot of racism in general. And said racism is bound to be dismissed, ignored and weaponized in favor of a culture of whiteness, depending on where you are.
This all brings us to a lawsuit filed by a group of Black students who were suspended from a northwest Georgia school for wearing Black Lives Matter T-shirts during protests over the death of George Floyd in 2020.
According to WBS-TV 2, the lawsuit was filed Tuesday by five students at Coosa High School in the city of Rome. The lawsuit claims that during the protest, which took place days after Floyd was murdered by ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, Black students were made to turn their BLM shirts inside-out while the school had no problem allowing white students to wear Confederate flag apparel. This tracks, of course, since white people, especially southern white people, pretend Confederate symbols are about heritage as opposed to them being odes to slavery and white supremacy. But when those same white people see the words “Black Lives Matter,” they routinely and incorrectly translate them to “death to Caucasians.”
Anyway, attorneys, parents and students say the racism goes well beyond mere symbols and that the shouting of racial slurs and other forms of discrimination at the school are common.
“And they just was like they can’t do nothing about it,” said Junior Desirae Turner, a student at the school. Turner said the school receives constant complaints of racism and school officials are simply disinterested in taking any kind of action.
“I shouldn’t feel unsafe in my school,” Turner continued. “I’m coming here to learn and get an education.”
Jessica Murray, a parent of a student at the school, echoed that sentiment.
“Just this year alone, I’ve had over 12 complaints,” Murray said.
In fact, according to the lawsuit, the Floyd protest was actually a counter-protest as it began after white students started waving Confederate flags and shouting racist obscenities on school grounds. Black students responded by protesting in their BLM shirts. The suit alleges that the white students weren’t disciplined while the Black students were suspended.
Attorney Harry Daniels said administrators at the school have no policy that disallows Confederate symbols. It’s unclear if Coosa High School prohibits junior Klan rallies, racial slurs and Nazi ROTC. (I’m only being slightly sarcastic here. After all, the school clearly has an anti-BLM policy, whether it’s official or not.)
The plaintiffs in the suit don’t appear to be asking for much. According to WSB-TV, they’re only seeking to have the students’ five-day suspensions expunged and an injunction to get the district to stop with all the blatant racism.
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