Girl Suspended for Confederate Sweatshirt Needs a Clue and a New Style


Confederate flagWelp, here we go again. Another generation is taking up the guard for the good ol’ Confederate flag. Hooty hoo! And here I was all worried that that piece of nostalgic paraphernalia might fade into oblivion.  

Last week, 14-year-old Torri Albrecht was suspended from her New Jersey middle school not for wearing a Confederate flag sweatshirt to class, but for refusing to take it off when the principal asked her to. Though she was born in Virginia and lived there for only one year, the Garden State resident is committed to celebrating her people — as in Southern people — despite the consequences.

Not surprisingly, the eighth grader has the full support of her mother, Jane West, who says if Jewish people can wear yarmulkes and Indian folks can sport turbans, than her child should be able to wear Old Rebel. Wow. Did she really say that? 

It’s impossible to turn your nose up at the kid when her mama is spouting nonsense like that, that’s for sure. She didn’t really stand a chance.

Funny thing is, when asked if she knew what the flag meant, she couldn’t even answer the question. How can you pump your kid up to wear the flag as a show of pride in her heritage when she doesn’t even know the history behind it? Surely if you’re going to plaster something across your chest, rock it to school, and defy administrators when they tell you to take it off, you should be informed enough to know what you’re standing up for. At least be able to touch on the basics.

Even funnier: mama didn’t know much about it either. She just knows it’s Southern and evidently, that’s good enough for her. So everybody’s just wearin’ it but has no idea what it means. Since we’re drawing comparisons between casual street wear and traditional religious and cultural garb, I’m sure a teen in a turban or a yarmulke could, at the very least, explain the meaning behind them. Just sayin’.

And that is part of the ignorance that irks my soul. Not even that it’s offensive to some black folks when they’re confronted with it. Whenever I see the Confederate flag — flying above someone’s home, dangling from their rearview mirror, draped across the back of their Harley — I instantly proceed with caution because I think I’m dealing with a redneck. In some instances, I definitely was and they let me know, in clear and certain terms, that they were batting for Team White Power. I even had an encounter with a real-life Klansman at an outdoor market in Maryland a couple of years ago as the Confederate flag flapped overhead.

But in other cases, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the person on the other side of the flag wasn’t an n-word slinging bigot, but someone who just had no idea that the flag evoked any kind of reaction other than deep-rooted Southern pride. But even when that information has been imparted to them it, to my knowledge, has never stopped an Old Rebel fan from continuing to fly the flag.

That’s an even bigger up yours than when the flag supporters were none the wiser about its offensiveness in the first place.

My argument will probably never change, but because folks tend to have a real “get over it” attitude about black people’s issue with what that flag represents, let me put it in a more general perspective: if something is offensive to a whole group of people and you claim to not want to be insensitive in this grand ol’ American melting pot, then why is not flying — or, in this case, wearing — the flag such a big deal? If using a word is offensive, you stop using the word. If sporting the flag is offensive, you stop sporting the doggone flag. It should be simple as that. Alas, we know it’s not or else we wouldn’t even be continuing to discuss this. In 2011.

West now wants 1) a formal apology to her daughter, 2) a repeal of the suspension, and 3) permission to transfer Torri to another school in a different district, which she may need to do anyway because the poor kid is receiving death threats. All because she wants to wear something she doesn’t even understand.

Is her mother right to challenge the school if the sweatshirt is offensive to other students?

Image via fauxto_digit/Flickr

behavior, issues, news, school


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colin... colins_mom

Wow stacey... Um just wow.

I had fully intended to say that I came in here wanting to tell the poster that it seems that everything I read from her (with a few exceptions, like how to deal with AA hair) are filled with racial undertones that can be really offensive. I am a redneck, I won't fly the confederate flag because I'm not a moron. That's what I think when I see old rebel: that person is a moron. Not "oh look a redneck" that only comes to mind when I see a pick up truck filled with hay and covered in mud.

Stacey. Stacey.

YES, I agree!

Morons can come in all different colors and be equally stupid. It has nothing to do with color, we all have the same brain on the inside =) There is no need for anyone to use stereotypes, its the pot calling out the kettle.

Courtney Jefferson

This flag provokes anger in me. It is a flag that represents bigotry and racism. I moved high schools in 10th grade because my sister didn't get into my high school (advanced). My new school was in a smaller town and there were only 2 black people at the school. I am half black and half white. I started dating a white boy at the school and these girls would call my boyfriend a "nigger lover" and even tried to run us off the street. These girls wore the confederate flag to school and had the flag on all of their cars. They wore it with pride as a symbol of racism. It was one of the worst years of my life. This flag should not be allowed at school. It is a symbol of HATE and that is the last thing these children should be thinking about. I am originally from Texas and probably one of the most southern people I know. This is NOT a southern symbol. It doesn't represent anything about me or my family.

Stacey. Stacey.

The flag is definitely unnecessary. As Collin's mom said, only MORONS sport the flag, it is not a "redneck" thing, and i resent anyone using redneck as a derogatory term, just as most people would resent nigger used in a derogatory way. Stereotypes are unnecessary across the board, no individual should represent a group as a whole.

Samantha Wortham

I do think she should have been asked to remove it at school because it is something that is taken offensively by many many people and a school is not the place to cause that kind of drama. You are there to learn not make fashion statements. This is why I like uniforms.

As for the people who find these flags offensive, I agree. I also know a lot of people who fly them to be racist assholes. There are a few that do not know any better too but those are not the majority in my experience. That being said. They have a right to fly them and sport them on their gear in public so people just need to except that. And the people that sport them have to except that people are going to assume you are a racist asshole. Thats life.

prplecat prplecat

She could wear the thing ANYWHERE EXCEPT to school.  There are a wide range of things that the kids can't wear to school, like bandannas and other gang signs.  Sadly, the confederate flag has become another type of gang sign.  IMHO, Mom needs to have her ass kicked.

phoeb... phoebefinch

That flag scares me to heck. I'm white but I know it means white power which to me is disgusting. Rednecks would kill me too because they hate everyone that isn't a bigot. Be afraid of that freakin confederate flag for sure!

nonmember avatar amanda

To all those who ASSume that the flag means white power or those that fly it are racist, well my dears you are just a bad. Does the author even state the history of the flag? nope, just makes it sound racist too. It was the battle flag for the south when fighting the north but if you think that war was over slavery I am very sorry for your lack of education. It was a part, but not the whole. mkay? thx! Love, a yankee married to a southern boy who flies a bonnie blue flag in her office. And I am about as unracist as they come. :)

nonmember avatar tokyorose

i was raised most of my life between a small town in mississippi and san digo,ca and i am not racist in any way.My son is half vietnamese,i am attracted to men with darker skin color and am as far from redneck as fact i am a vintage pinup model in phoenix,az.BUT when i see the confederate flag it reminds me of being back home and the pride that southerners have.its as common as magnolia flowers and hunting brand logos down there and it IS NOT something white people use as a symbol to envoke painful memories for African american people,and to automatically assume that is ignorance.

Logan... LoganTroyMom

do you ever write anything that doesn't cry 'oh no the white man out to get us?'

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