Hold up. Hold all the way up.
This is completely ridiculous.
On Tuesday in Buckeye, Arizona, right outside of Phoenix, it was picture day at Buckeye High School. Mariah Havard, a 10th grader, showed up beaming with pride. She was wearing her “Black Lives Matter” T-shirt.
I have one.
My teenage daughters, who are entering the ninth and 11th grade, do too.
Like Mariah, we wear them with pride because we want the world to know that black lives matter to us. It’s not to cause controversy or even to be provocative. In fact, if saying that black lives matter is either controversial or provocative, we have a whole different problem to discuss.
But 15-year-old Mariah Havard learned the hard way that the simple message on her T-shirt was not welcome in her school. When it came time to take her picture, she was asked instead to go the principal’s office. Once there, she was told that someone had complained about her shirt and she would need to take it off immediately.
Disturbed, she complied and went to the restroom to change.
“I was a little bit confused as to why I wouldn’t be able to wear something so meaningful to me,” she told the local NBC affiliate.
The next day, a fellow African-American student Genesis Santoyo wore her Black Lives Matter shirt in support of her friend. She, too, was asked to take it off.
“I felt like I was being punished for who I am,” said Genesis.
Both students said they have regularly seen students wearing shirts with Confederate flags on them at the school with seemingly little interference.
“I’ve seen gay pride shirts, I’ve seen Confederate flags,” said Genesis. “I’ve actually seen a white power shirt once.”
The whole odeal is preposterous.
First off, the Confederate flag and the phrase “Black Lives Matter” are not remote equivalents. However, if the Confederate flag is allowed to be worn, damn near anything should be allowed. It’s not like Mariah Havard and Genesis Santoyo wore shirts that said “F–k White People.” They wore a shirt that is rooted in self-affirmation in a society that so often loves black culture but despises black people.
The more I think about this, the angrier I get. The solution is to allow students to wear these shirts, but if they are not allowed to wear them, then every single shirt with words or images should be banned alongside them. This notion that a school is going to single out a message that means the world to these young women and force them to change is simply unacceptable.
Black lives matter, dammit.