Being a black teenager in America isn’t easy. You would think that it would at least be easier in California of all places. Unfortunately, school administrators at a Sacremento high school revealed their true colors by openly discriminating against a black student.
Nyree Holmes was very proud to graduate from Cosumnes Oaks High School in Sacramento, California. He chose to attend the ceremony wearing an African kente cloth, which was meant to demonstrate his cultural pride.
I wasn’t acting out of hand at all, I just wanted to be able to show my cultural pride and my religious pride,” he told reporters.
“The kente represents my culture that I have no other links to. I wanted to show I’m proud of who I am and that as the descendant of slaves, I represent Africa and my ancestry.”
The school wasn’t about to have any of that. They promptly ordered him to be removed from the ceremony. They didn’t just ask him to leave. They actually had cops show up and escort him off the premises. WTF?
Xanthi Pinkerton of the Elk Grove Unified School District acknowledges that this wasn’t handled as well as it could have been.
Things could have been handled differently, if we had perhaps more personnel, site personnel administrated from the school site to talk with the student,” Pinkerton said.
Holmes was later allowed to return to pick up his diploma with a security guard. What school would make a student go through such a humiliating experience?
The Elk Grove Unified School District clearly doesn’t approve of black students showing cultural pride. Holmes was very hurt to find this out the hard way.
This neighborhood has gone from a farm town to a bustling small urban city that’s building up and growing,” he said. “I understand not wanting people to dazzle their caps with random words or wear neon pink sashes and crazy things. But they need to adapt it to accept cultural items.”
Pinkerton claims that the issue was that Holmes wasn’t in uniform.
We would have preferred that the student would have complied. We wouldn’t have even gone here with that. It would have been nice not to have the image of a police escort.”
So a police escort was the only solution?
Pinkerton’s half-assed explanation would have more weight if Sacramento public schools weren’t already under fire for racial incidents. Just a couple of months ago, KCRA reported that a number of racial slurs were shouted at a school basketball game. This is one of many incidents showing that racial tensions are high in the community.
Unfortunately, the officials at Cosumnes Oaks High School seem to have little interest in abating them. They would rather have students arrested for showing racial pride than try to take their school into the 21st century. At least the community is speaking up against it this time. Maybe the embarrassed officials should just move the school down to Texas where this behavior is more acceptable.
Featured image via video screen capture
Kale Smith is an economics and social justice aficionado. He is an egalitarian that writes passionately about justice reform, income inequality and the failures of Reaganism.