Student respect questionable after HBC flags pulled

The Southerner

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By Jasmine Burnett

For most seniors, getting into college is the most exciting part of the school year. I’ve always appreciated our school’s tradition of having students write the names of the colleges to which they’ve been accepted on a flag and then mounting those flags on their homeroom doors.

So when I heard that a student ripped down some of the flags outside of Ms. Willoughby’s room, I was dismayed. And when I found out that the only ones ripped down were those representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities, I was extremely angered and disappointed.

I remember  when I heard the news, everyone was shocked—except me. People around me immediately made comments like, “Really? At Grady?” They were in disbelief that someone could so openly display their prejudices, especially in a community like Grady’s—one that prides itself on its diverse and accepting student body. Though I recognize that the vast majority of students at Grady are open-minded, I think we often forget that our school, just like the rest of the world, includes people with less than tolerant beliefs.

While Grady certainly prepares us for the real world in terms of helping us become independent, it shelters us socially. Because our school is one where most people are progressive and forward-thinking, many of us have never had to confront uncomfortable situations like walking past a classroom door and noticing that flags boasting HBCUs were torn down. And since we haven’t had to experience those situations, many of us don’t know how to deal with them. This makes us under-react and make the incident out to be less important than it is, because we know these hateful people are only a small part of Grady’s population. What we fail to realize, however, is that even one ignorant, prejudiced person taints our entire community.

Whoever did this should be ashamed and embarrassed. We need to make it clear to that person that his or her actions are neither encouraged nor tolerated. Understanding and acceptance in our society has grown and developed too much for us to let people with regressive mindsets and behaviors reverse that progress. Whether it is one person or 100 people acting contrary to our values, each and every one of us has the responsibility to stand up for what we know is right. So Grady students: let’s continue to make sure our school is a place where anyone and everyone can feel comfortable—a place free of enmity and full of understanding.

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