Racial Tension at BHS

Brent Finnegan -- November 11th, 2009

There’s a story in today’s DNR about the ongoing confederate flag kerfuffle/racial riot shockwaves at my alma mater, Broadway High. Jenny Jones reports that at last night’s school board meeting, two parents (flanked by a dozen supporters) raised the issues of dress code and student safety.

[Parent Keenan] Moore said students continue to walk around the high school displaying what he calls symbols and words of hate, and he doesn’t think school officials have done enough to address the situation.

He added that some of the students displaying the items continue to congregate in an area outside the school known as “Redneck Hill,” making some minority students feel uneasy.

“Don’t tell me this is about heritage and not hate,” said Moore. “I’m asking you … to do something about the unsafe environment at Broadway High School.”

When I graduated from BHS in the late 90s, there were so few minority students, as to be almost invisible to my group of friends and me. And there was certainly no shortage of confederate flags and other “southern sentiments” on T-shirts in the halls and in the parking lot. But times have changed, and there are more Hispanic and other minority students there now than there were more than a decade ago.

110 Responses to “Racial Tension at BHS”

  1. Dany Fleming says:

    Eso – I’m glad you found a cut-off spot, because you were clearly gettin’ on a roll. But it sure helped you make your point. It’s a great issue and debate.

    There’s great irony (and danger)in banning/censorship in the prime place where kids learn critical thinking and discernment skills, though everyone agrees schools need some good and safe limits.

    I think your reply needs two responses.

    First, the students and parents at BHS should have some quick resolve to the current issue. They deserve the right to feel safe and welcome – they’re our neighbors and community. I imagine making it a local/small government decision would be a welcome idea here. I also believe race issues, understandably, carry a particular history of violence and exclusion.

    Second, your list brings up lots of potential issues – for which I don’t have a real answer. It certainly gives weight to the bloggers pointing to the importance of understanding history.

    Would a pro-life student feel reasonably threatened at a school of mostly NARAL-supporting parents wearing their buttons? Would wearing a LaRaza shirt be seen as likely inciting violence at an AZ school of Minutemen parents?

    I see your point about “blatant” sexual themes. However, it seems that “blatant” violence themes don’t get enough credit for the damage they cause teenagers (ask any K-12 parent). But, you’re right, it’s a can of historical worms.

    Thanks for your point. I also hope we don’t get too far afield and miss the chance to discuss the BHS issue.

  2. Dany Fleming says:

    Stacy – I agree with lots of what you’re saying. Finding a way to make progress with the folks involved is much more effective than a blanket policy. I hope that’s what they’re trying to do. However, I also have no doubt that those parent’s concerns are legitimate.

    Suspension/expulson is absolutely a tool school’s have. It also carries huge consequences for students. I hope everything can be done to avoid that – it’s usually not very helpful to the students getting punished. Maybe I’m unrealistic, but I do think they can find acceptable solutions that don’t require a banning policy.

    However, regarding “creating a stir,” you said “you’re not saying that is the case here” for the BHS parents and students. You make a really important distinction for them. I hope it means they get some needed support.

  3. Dany Fleming says:

    Renee – I did see your link. It’s a great example of finding a solution where one didn’t seem likely, otherwise.

  4. eso says:

    There is a broad range of reasons someone may wear/display the confederate flag. Some people may be outright racist. Some may wear it because their hunting buddies do. Some because of family history. Some may wear it because they like the Dukes of Hazard. People who are wanting to ban it attribute a mindset of hate and aggression to everyone with that flag.
    You don’t know what the people wearing the flag intend in their mind. You can’t go trying to make everyone warm and fuzzy feeling because you will always have someone who is offended about something.
    It’s been a while since I’ve been to Broadway more than passing through, but I’d think if you get everyone in school district together to vote they may well OK the confederate flag and ban “foreign” flags. Why should speech rights be up to popular vote? Absolutely, discipline anybody who threatens a student. As it is, people are responding to every flag as a threat. There are multiple reasons people have to display that flag and not all are intended to be harmful. You can’t throw a punch without harming or intending to harm someone. That should be prohibited. You can display the flag without intending to or actually harming, harassing, or enslaving a Black person. That doesn’t mean a Black person who sees it wouldn’t be offended, but that’s OK. The person who is displaying it has done nothing to harm the person who has seen it.

    In the same way, I’m very offended by Mexican(& Central American) flags in the USA. But I don’t ask the foreign flags to be removed. Some who display the Mexican flag may mean it as a symbol of the reconquesta (sp?) movement. Some may display it because they are home sick. Some may display it because they only heard the good stories about their parent’s homeland. I will work politically to remove illegals. The flags are only a symptom of the problem and removing them won’t solve the problem. Nor is it the problem in of itself. It’s the same with the confederate flags. If some of those BHS students are racist, removing the flags isn’t going to magically make them good people.
    Finally, school should prepare people for the real world. The confederate flag is out there and isn’t going away. Trying to make little bubble where there is no confederate flag, for what ever good that does, will just leave them ill prepared for when they enter the workforce.

  5. Renee and eso,

    Confederate BATTLE flag, not “Confederate flag.” If a KKK zombie bearing a lynch noose walked up to them, most peope would not recognize the real “Confederate flag.”

    Also, eso, those Cowboys fans can go to….. (Dallas)

    JFG,

    Did you not mean to say “upchuck with which I will not put”?

    Cook,

    No, neither “palid” nor “paid,” but “Palin,” as in “Sarah.” Heck, if she got in here she sure would fix this mess up, youbetcha!

  6. Jeremy Aldrich says:

    Holding racist beliefs and having a callous insensitivity to the feelings of other students is not and cannot be illegal. Threatening and carrying out violence are. Students and parents who feel unsafe need to clarify their concerns. They and the community members who support them also need to suggest what actions the schools could legally take. It’s hard to imagine that Rockingham County Public Schools aren’t going to get sued (or at least raked over the coals) by one side or the other (or both) in this dispute.

    eso raised several good points in his last post and I think he represents well the opinions of many people who are thinking and talking about this issue in our community. Shutting down a real discussion of the history behind the battle flag, the CSA, the South, slavery, and racism does a disservice to everyone. If history is important to those who wish to display the flag, then by all means let’s talk about history.

  7. Mickey Arefaine says:

    This discussion has nothing to do with the students and everything to do with a bunch of white men arguing about the Civil War and first amendment rights (my apologies to my fellow women and minorities in this debate). I have a few points to make.

    High school students do not have the same constitutional rights that the rest of the population has. As soon as you enter school property, a number of rules come into play. When I was in high school, ten years ago, we could not wear spaghetti strap shirts because they were too “sexy”. We were not allowed to wear bandannas because they were considered gang paraphernalia. My friend had to turn his shirt inside out because it had Sublimes 40oz. to Freedom album cover on it. We could not cuss, we could not kiss our boyfriends or girlfriends in the hall. So arguing about the rights of high school students is just silly, because there are tons of rules in every public high school that contradict constitutional rights.

    I am American born and of Ethiopian heritage. I grew up in this area and when I see someone wearing the confederate flag, I know that our chances of friendship are slim. That’s not to say I haven’t had friends over the years to whom I’ve had to explain why the flag is offensive, but if we use our critical thinking skills and our eyes, we will notice that kids who wear confederate flag shirts and put stickers on there vehicles don’t have a lot of minorities in their circle of friends. What would happen if an African-American kid wore a Black Panthers shirt to school? Wouldn’t that message be just as clear? “I’m proud of my racially violent past so don’t mess with me?”

    Comparing the confederate flag to a foreign flag makes no sense. Last time I checked, Mexico is still a nation state and actually our ally. The Confederate South is long gone and we now live in one country called The UNITED States of America.

    That said, we need to listen to what the students have to say. Why do they wear the shirts? How do the minority students feel? I have a feeling that both the white students wearing the shirts and the minority students feel threatened in some way. Until there is facilitated dialogue between the students, parents, and teachers this issue will never go away. I personally oppose censorship because it does not get to the root of any problem. It doesn’t change the way someone feels, it only masks it and makes them angrier. I agree with Jeremy Aldrich’s point, “Shutting down a real discussion of the history behind the battle flag, the CSA, the South, slavery, and racism does a disservice to everyone.”

    I hope that the students, administration, and parents can get together and come up with a solution for now. It takes a lot of time, patience, and effort to overcome racial tension and prejudice but for the sake of these kids, we need to try.

  8. Lowell Fulk says:

    Mickey,

    You make the best points…

    Thank you, I hope folks listen.

  9. MF says:

    The problem with the confederate battle flag has NOTHING to do with the civil war. The flag was a banner for the Klu Klux Klan since their inception. You can say you’re displaying the flag for cultural reasons, but they could just as well be for racist reasons.

  10. Deb SF says:

    Mickey: terrific post.

  11. wayne jenkins says:

    i dont approve of everybody bringing up race in this just because some dumb 9th and 10th graders were saying racial slurs doesnt mean its racist keenan was a football coach of mine and i respect him very highly the way people are blowing this out of proportion is wrong the confederate flag was a symbol of the southern army and they are my ancestors and i dont know about everyone else but my ancestors are why im here now and i respect them and stand tall in my choice of driving my truck to school with it flying high

  12. JGFitzgerald says:

    “[M]y apologies to my fellow women and minorities in this debate.”

    Your apology needs to be a little broader than that. To a white male who’s asked three times now why the students were wearing the flag to begin with, that’s more offensive than I assume you intended. I’m also one of seven white males on this thread who has specifically addressed the students in this discussion. Perhaps you meant that those focusing on Civil War era history appear to be mostly white males. But that’s not exactly what it said.

  13. Lowell Fulk says:

    Thanks for joining the discussion Mr. Jenkins,
    Could you clear up something which has been puzzling me since this all began, what is it you’re trying to accomplish?

    If you truly respect your former coach, can you appreciate the position in which you have placed him in his community? To the point that this quiet man felt it necessary to petition the school board regarding the safety of his and other people’s children?

    I respectfully look forward to gaining an understanding of your thoughts and actions.

  14. Thanks for weighing in, Mickey. You’re right: high school students have (and have always had, as long as I can remember) restricted rights. And that’s a major reason I hated school up until college.

    Prohibition incites desire. Tell a teen not to do something, and s/he will do the opposite.

  15. Dany Fleming says:

    Eso, Jeremy – you’re right that we can’t go around legislating around a mindset or have “thought” police. In spite of any difference here, I think everyone would line up behind you in defending that right. There’s also no lack of space in this country to make those thoughts known in public

    Mickey’s point is that schools are a place that have and need limits. There is not the right to act or say as you please at school. There is the right to have safe and equal access. Most places have limits on the types of businesses that can be located near schools. The fact is that kids are provided and deserve extra protections. In spite of all our hot air out here, BHS will make their own decision based primarily on keeping the school safe and welcoming to everyone.

    There’s plenty of support for the Confed. flag here (in whatever variation) as well as folk’s views of Southern heritage. Lots of those same folks are willing to make a stand for those things. If those folks also showed some understanding and support for the students feeling threatened, I imagine they would be much less concerned.

    There seems to be some underlying idea that the students feeling threatened are just causing trouble or being unreasonable. They surely see the folks throwing adamant support behind a flag first and dismissing their concerns. I’d say that has lots to do with why they feel threatened. Having a “real discussion of …the battle flag, the CSA, the South, slavery and racism,” in my experience, usually doesn’t involve a real discussion of racism. Our common heritage goes way beyond Southern heritage; that just, too often, seems to be a final stopping point when looking back.

  16. And why do schools have rules that restrict freedoms? Because schools are full of developing young minds that are easily distracted, generally undisciplined, and inappropriately reactive and emotional. Schools control these obstacles to deliver an education. Which by way includes self discipline, self restraint and respect.

    Parents are expected to have the back of the schools. The old, “you get in trouble at school, you’ll get it worse at home”.

    So it sounds like the kids are playing their predictable part in being distracted, undisciplined, and reactive. When is the schools going to do play their part?

  17. And when is I going to learn how to type?

  18. Renee says:

    Mickey, you made several great points, thank you.

    This one is great food for thought in this context:
    “What would happen if an African-American kid wore a Black Panthers shirt to school? Wouldn’t that message be just as clear? “I’m proud of my racially violent past so don’t mess with me?””

  19. Renee says:

    wayne, please read the whole thread and respond to some of our questions.

    The only way I’d say that “the flag isn’t racist” is in the same context as the “guns don’t kill people” slogan.

    Also, even if you are under the impression that the flag doesn’t represent racist views, don’t you care that it makes black students feel uneasy/threatened in school? And even if it was only “a few 9th and 10th graders” making blatantly racist comments, doesn’t the fact that THEY also feel the flag represents racism mean anything in this context?

  20. seth says:

    mick,
    it’s not just black panthers or other groups who are perceived to be violent/racist that could end up on the chopping block. malcolm x is one that i’d be really sad to see (but i think likely could) end up in this category. i had an interesting conversation with some friends on facebook when this first came out a month or so back and realized that pretty much anything that kids were willing to respond to in a disruptive fashion could be perceived as detrimental to their education (and therefore prohibited). if the kids who are willing to be disruptive figure out that that’s the standard, i think the way broadway is handling this will become even more evidently ludicrous.

  21. eso says:

    Barkley:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confederate_flag#The_Confederate_Flag

    Which would properly be called the “Confederate flag”?
    Honestly curious. The First 3 national flags? The Bonnie Blue?

  22. Renee says:

    seth, you said “pretty much anything that kids were willing to respond to in a disruptive fashion could be perceived as detrimental to their education (and therefore prohibited). if the kids who are willing to be disruptive figure out that that’s the standard, i think the way broadway is handling this will become even more evidently ludicrous.”

    so, what is the high school doing specifically to “handle” this situation? i haven’t heard any reliable details about what the school has done. i don’t think the flags were prohibited, were they?

  23. eso,

    Funny you brought that up. I just went there myself, and indeed there were several “official national” Confederate flags. I was thinking of the “Bonnie Blue” indeed, which was it for longer than any of the others, although the number of stars in it changed over time. For those who have not seen it, it looked quite a bit like the early US flag. It had three horizontal stripes, red ones on the top and bottom and a white one in the middle. In the upper left corner was a dark blue square with a circle of yellow stars for the Confederate states, with that number increasing eventually to 13 as more states seceded.

    Later ones would be more provocative, as they incorporated something that was the actual battle flag, not the one currently displayed, in the upper left corner. The actual battle flag was square. The rest of the flag was white, although in early 1865 it got a wide vertical red stripe on its right side.

    Curiously, what is now called by many “the Confederate flag” or “the Confederate battle flag,” never existed nor was it flown during the Civil War, being apparently an invention of the early 20th century. It has the colors of the actual battle flag, but the design of the Navy Jack No. 2.

    I recognize that Mickey and Deb and some others are right that high schools regularly ban all kinds of clothing and other things, often for all kinds of arbitrary reasons. I have always been unenthusiastic about such things and a defender of free expression and free speech. But clearly the schools have the right to do this, and if BHS cannot get people to calm down and have a dialogue and overcome the situation, they probably should ban the modified Confederate battle flag that has been so aggressively worn by people reportedly spouting racist remarks.

    As it is, it would seem that some sort of effort should be made to have a serious dialogue, if that is possible. The air needs clearing. And I would offer the first Confederate national flag, the “Bonnie Blue,” as something that sincere but non-racist students who want to express respect for their southern heritage could wear that would not cause bad or fearful feelings on the part of their fellow students.

  24. Dany Fleming says:

    Wayne – I appreciate you jumping in as well. I don’t think anyone doubts your conviction and allegiance.

    I’m also curious along Lowell’s line of questioning. What do you think is a reasonable position and reaction for the student’s who say they felt threatened?

    You mentioned racial slurs being used and that this is blown out of proportion. Do you think the students should have any reason to feel threatened or nervous? or that it’s understandable?

    The fact is, you probably have more ability to find a resolve for this than the rest of us here combined. Your serious input on this likely carries much more weight than the rest of us.

  25. Renee says:

    eso, there is a section in that wikipedia article called “displaying the flag” that covers some of what we are discussing here, with references. interesting.

  26. eso says:

    Mickey,

    I have never worn/displayed the confederate flag and I have no interest in wearing it. I continue to believe the free speech outweighs the discomfort of those seeing the flag.
    To answer your question, I doubt anything would have happened to a Black student wearing a Black Panthers t-shirt in the past. If they “Dixie” flag is banned, then yes someone at Broadway school will probably complain if a student wears a Black Panthers t-shirt. I suspect no action would be taken, but that is just conjecture on my part.
    There are plenty of rap artist who refer to women as “Ho’s or Bitches” in their songs. What if a student wears a t-shirt that has the name of that “artist” but not their lyrics ( not the actual word “Ho’s or Bitches” ) and not any derogatory pictures. And further suppose a female student is offended by t-shirt and complains. The student wearing it has done nothing to promote those misogynistic views other than displaying the name of the rapper(s). The wearer may just like the rhythm, not the lyrics. The person who views the t-shirt and is offended, is offended about is a reaction in their mind to the person wearing it. Are we going to start analyzing everything to the nth degree about what it could mean to everyone who might see it and how they might feel about it?
    I disagree that Mexico is an ally in more than name only. If someone is going to be offended by a flag from more than a hundred years ago, I’m going to be offended by a present day flag from a country that is actively but unofficially invading our country. If we are going around making everyone happy, shiny, and un-offended. I count too, dammit :)
    I also suggest that the banning of the Dixie flag would be more like the wearing of black armbands during Vietnam war. The Supreme court ruled in that case free speech did not end at the school door. The recent case of “Bong hits for Jesus” cast some uncertainty on that, but promoted an illegal activity.

    Mickey,
    I casually know you and your family and respect all of you. I also sincerely and respectfully disagree with you about this.

  27. eso says:

    It’s also interesting some WWII soldiers officially ( USS Columbia ) and some soldiers in later conflicts ( unofficially ) fought under this flag. Were they fighting for racism and slavery?

    ( As a side note, Hburgnews seems to be grinding to a halt when loading pages right now )

  28. Renee says:

    eso, you continue to equate the Dixie flag to other symbols that may have “offensive” meaning, but not a necessarily threatening meaning. Rap groups, car brands, and sports rivalries are not on the same par here. Also, I’m sure shirts with guns or drugs on them are banned from school already. “Free speech” doesn’t apply the same way on public school grounds because the schools can legally make rules against certain clothing they feel distracts the students or promotes violence.

    Do you not accept that a black student may (validly) feel threatened by a group of white students wearing the flags because of the history of the symbol, especially if accompanied by some students shouting racial slurs or “white power” or whatever they were saying (even if not every student wearing the flag was being overtly racist)?

    Also, just because some groups used the flag for non-race-related purposes doesn’t erase the fact that many groups did and still do, and that the Dixie flag has come to be known by most people as a symbol of the Confederacy’s fight to keep their slaves, and as a white-power symbol. It’s the negative meanings associated the symbol after many decades of its use as a racist symbol that is getting these students riled up.

    I don’t think there’s any denying that the students are valid in feeling threatened by the apparent tensions rising at the school. What needs to be discussed is what to do about it. Just a ban won’t solve the problem. I think dialog needs to be started as soon as possible so everyone can learn from this situation and prevent it from getting out of hand.

    p.s. we are aware of the issues with the website and we’ll get it fixed as soon as we can

  29. BANDIT says:

    This is not a problem! If it was a KKK flag, yes, that would be a problem but, not a Dixie flag…..C’mon man!

  30. Lowell Fulk says:

    I don’t understand why some folks can’t seem to understand that this isn’t about a flag. It’s about bullying and intimidation, threatening behavior and statements. This is about cliquish exclusion and persecution in order to cause pain and fear.
    It exists, it is purposeful, and it causes pain and harm…

  31. Renee says:

    Bandit,
    It IS used as a symbol of the KKK. This link is on the homepage of KKK.com:
    http://www.christianbooksandthings.net/cbtees5.htm
    (confederate flag KKK t-shirts)

  32. BANDIT says:

    Bullies don’t need a flag to be a bully. A flag is merely an excuse…..

  33. Renee says:

    The kids’ shirts on that site really bother me. Of course a kid would grow up thinking black people are unfriendly if his parents had him walking around wearing a confederate flag.

  34. Renee says:

    “Bullies don’t need a flag to be a bully. A flag is merely an excuse…”

    True, but it doesn’t negate the fact that the black students have a valid reason to feel threatened by the racial tension being stirred up at the school.

  35. BANDIT says:

    White supremacist will use anything as a symbol … a shaved head, cloak, swastika … heck, they could decide to use the American flag as a symbol of hate … if you put a negative spin on anything the whole meaning can change. People are where the hate comes from, not inanimate objects.

  36. Lowell Fulk says:

    It’s not the flag… Look at the message… The flag is just a part of the whole. Look at the message: These people are trying to sell a concept of pride of Klan heritage linked to, of all things, Christianity…

    But sad thing is, it’s a heritage of hate… Not too many ways to interpret the tee shirt messages… And they pervert the entire concept of Christ by co opting people’s faith in Christ.

    Take a good look at the message on the tee shirts being marketed for adults and children on the site linked by Renee:

    http://www.christianbooksandthings.net/cbtees5.htm

    Thank you Renee.

  37. MF says:

    I still think displaying the flag is part of the problem. Because the flag has dual meanings (civil war heritage, racist past) of course anyone it directly effects is going to equate it to its darker side, to keep them selfs safe.
    It sucks that the rebel flag is equated with the KKK, but I’m sure there are plenty of Hindus and Buddists that are bummed the swastika was used by the Nazis.

  38. eso says:

    Renee:
    No, I do not accept that a Black student should feel threatened by a student wearing a Confederate flag in of itself. Of course a student *could* feel threatened by it, but a student could feel threatened by a ham sandwich ( to paraphrase a jurist). There is just not enough information there to know if it is justified. The person displaying the displaying the flag could mean it to say they like hunting & fishing, general rebellion, that their ancestors fought in the civil war, that their grandfather/great-grandfather fought under it in Korea, Vietnam, WWII. I liked the _Dukes of Hazard_ show growing up and associate the flag with the General Lee.
    The bullying, persecution, and other racist *behavior* is the problem. Not an ambiguous, one hundred year old flag. Furthermore, trying to ban the flag is only antagonizing the students who sincerely want to wear for non-racist reasons. And who will welcome them with open arms when they are pissed off at the people who took the flag they displayed innocently? That’s right, racist. The brow beating and preaching by those who want to ban it won’t stop anybody from wanting to wear it. And those who were on the fence and probably wouldn’t have worn it will now say, “I wouldn’t have worn it because it might be offense to someone. But if you tell me I’m racist for wearing it, ‘Screw You!’ I’m putting one on now.” Really, forbidding it makes it that much more appealing.

  39. eso says:

    Out of curiosity, what is the racial demographics of BHS now?

  40. Renee says:

    eso, I agree with you that it’s the behavior, not the flag. However, in this case, the behavior is associated with the flag. I never said I think banning the flag will solve the problem (in fact I said the opposite and I’m hoping the school will start a dialog to figure out what is going on ASAP), but I said the racism commonly associated with the flag makes the students understandably uncomfortable with crowds of students wearing it (especially when people in those crowds have also made white power statements).

    This wasn’t a big issue until the “riot” recently, and now it needs to be addressed before it gets out of hand.

    I don’t know the racial makeup of the school, but here’s some data about the town from the census almost 10 years ago:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broadway,_Virginia#Demographics

  41. Lowell Fulk says:

    Let’s try this from a different direction since no one can seem to get beyond a piece of cloth.

    Why do you think this situation erupted? And why now?
    Is BHS somehow unique? Or is this county high school merely representative, a microcosm if you will, of society at large?

  42. BANDIT says:

    The display of the flag itself isn’t what hurts people. People … some wearing/displaying the flag and acting in a hateful, taunting, bulling manor are the root of the problem. As has been stated, some people mean no harm and are proud of their heritage …. while others use it as a catalyst or a prompt to exhibit what lies deep in their being … a superior attitude of one race over another. What needs to be determined is why this has suddenly become a problem at the school … if there is racial tension … it needs to be addressed. Is the flag really the problem? Or is it a group of students?

  43. Emmy says:

    OK so let’s assume for a moment that the students wearing the flag aren’t racist. Let’s assume they are wearing it for their “heritage”. How many of those students could tell you exactly what that heritage is? I bet prior to this coming under fire almost none of them could tell you what it means. So, I guess if they don’t know then they mean no harm right? I doubt it. I went to high school with plenty of people who wore this flag and none of them could have told you what it meant, but they could have told you how they felt about minorities and it wasn’t kind.

    To suggest that high school students are wearing this as a representation of heritage is just stupid and to suggest that a minority group shouldn’t be offended by it is even stupider. Yes, people can get offended over anything, but this isn’t just any random thing. This is a symbol that has been connected with hate for a very long time whether it should be or not.

    Trust me, if you think the things on that website are bad, you have no idea how much worse it is to hear it come out of a person’s mouth. It’s one of the main reasons I haven’t spoken to my father in years and why he isn’t allowed anywhere near my children.

    I will say again that I think it’s time for school uniforms and they can express themselves on their own time.

  44. Dany Fleming says:

    I’m not clear if we’re making any particular progress here. However, I appreciate that folks are carrying on the discussion with reasonable respect. There’s lots to be said for that. It’s also the example we should be setting for any students checking in.

    The flag has lots of extremely powerful connotations for both sides of this debate. The discussion of its role will undoubtedly continue.

    However, Renee and Lowell are right. It’s the behavior (bullying and intimidation) that’s what really concerns the students. They are understandably concerned for their safety and looking for the school – and community – to provide help. I believe it’s a real concern

    I also believe the students shouting things and waving the flag are counting on the implied threat. They know they don’t have to do much to make the threat real and felt – they count on that perception.

    If that wasn’t the case, then it shouldn’t be difficult for the bullying students to “sincerely” demonstrate they respect the other students and their rights.

    Bandit, this is certainly not a sudden thing. The fact is, if you’re a person of color, you think and deal with this 24/7 – and you can’t walk away from it, it follows you. Sadly, racism weighs on kids of color from the first moment it smacks them in the face.

    Things may get better. However, those kids still know a “threat” is always just around the corner and they can’t let their guard down. As someone earlier mentioned, those kids certainly don’t need the school to make sure they get a taste of the “real” world – it’s already been there in large doses.

    It was absolutely devastating to me when I saw my son experience it hard in Kindergarten. It was something his best friend spouted, which clearly came from his parents. As a parent, you know it’s coming, you prepare as best you can and then wait for that first moment on pins and needles. It’s as irreversible as any abuse.

    If folks displaying the flag and shouting things want to reshape how that’s perceived, then find a way to demonstrate your actions mean something different. Do things that make people believe your heritage represents what you say it does – not something threatening. That would really be honoring a heritage.

  45. Dany Fleming says:

    For those who don’t want to read my previous long-winded reply…

    For folks who want to proudly display their Southern heritage, show you’re separate from those pushing hate and fear. If you don’t want hate associated with icons of your heritage, then take back those symbols from those pushing racism and violence. Rethink who the real allies are for you.

    It might not be easy, but it would be a much more enduring and honoring way to preserve the legacy as you say it should be.

  46. For the record, I looked more closely when I drove by Woodbine Cemetery this morning (probably should go look on foot for sure up close). There were two flags flying over the Confederate dead (whom I believe deserve respect, even if their Lost Cause was not a Just Cause). One was clearly some variation of the Bonnie Blue. The other looked white, making me suspect that it might be a variation on the second national Confederate flag, which does have the real battle flag in its upper left corner. Guess I had better go look up close to figure this out, since I brought it up.

    Again, I like the use of the term “Dixie flag” for this phoney anti-historical thing that so many people are making a big deal about their right to wear. If you are into it, keep in mind, nobody at all during the Civil War ever saw the thing, much less marched around under it for any purpose. In any case, it is definitely not what is being flown right now over the Confederate dead in Woodbine. There something more historically accurate (and lacking the ugly baggage of this pathetic joke of a flag) is being flown.

  47. Mickey Arefaine says:

    eso: I am unclear on the point that your are trying to make? Can you please clarify why it is that you disagree with me? I said that I OPPOSE censorship. You’re comparisons to rap artists and invading countries make no logical sense. We are talking about racism, NOT political correctness. I am trying to be realistic. It is idealistic to think that these kids are wearing the shirts 100% innocently. I can tell you as a minority that I do find the flag offensive, but I still believe in the right of someone to wear it. In my experience, most people who wave the confederate flag are racist on some level. Why is it that you never see African-Americans wearing the flag? Is it not their heritage as well? We all know that the South was built by slaves. I had a friend who did this in his high school in response to white kids wearing Dixie shirts. He was sent to the principles office for being disruptive. Like Renee, I also wonder what these kids mean by heritage? Lastly, I would really like to know why do you not wave the Confederate flag?

  48. OK, folks. I just went and looked up close in person at the two flags flying at this minute over the Confederate dead in Woodbine Cemetery. They are 1) the original “Bonnie Blue” flag, with only seven stars, and 2) the Virginia state flag, which has a white circle in the middle containing an image representing the state slogan, also there, “sic semper tyrannis,” (“thus always to tyrants”), which was reputedly stated by the assassins of Julius Caesar when they did him in.

    The slogan was originally suggested by George Mason in 1776 for the Commonwealth, and originally was directed at Great Britain. In the Civil War it came to be understood as referring to the North, and John Wilkes Booth apparently uttered it after assassinating President Lincoln.

    Neither flag contains any version of any of the various historical Confederate battle flags, and certainly do not contain this historically phoney “Dixie flag,” which is the symbol of the KKK as well as having (reportedly) flown over some troops in WW II, as well as on the General Lee in the harmless TV show, The Dukes of Hazzard.

    Again, the Bonnie Blue has three horizontal stripes, two red with a white one between them, with a dark blue square in the upper corner with the stars on it. Ironically, the one flown theere was a flag prior to the secession of Virginia.

  49. Very minor correction: the phrase in the center of the Virginia state flag is capitalized, “Sic Semper Tyrannis.”

  50. JGFitzgerald says:

    Yeah, but the Virginia flag, among all the state flags, has the only bare breast. A wonder teenage boys don’t want to fly that one instead. 100.

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