A teenager was recently suspended from her New Jersey middle school, allegedly for wearing a Confederate flag sweatshirt to class. Now her mom is threatening a lawsuit. The shirt isn't racist, she explains — her daughter just loves Virginia.
According to the Times of Trenton (via Gothamist), 14-year-old Torri Albrecht wore the sweatshirt to Melvin H. Kreps Middle School on Nov. 7. School officials asked her to remove it, noting the teachers had complained. The school says Albrecht was "disrespectful in her refusal to take it off," so they suspended her. Her mom, Jane West, disputes this, saying that the assistant principal lied to her about exactly how many teachers were upset about the shirt. She explains,
The bottom line is there's no proof that anyone complained about the sweat shirt or that my daughter was disrespectful about taking it off. The only thing I have proof of is that (assistant principal Jermaine Blount) lied to me.
West also says that the shirt is just an expression of Albrecht's pride in her Virginia birthplace, and that the family are "far from racists." She's demanding that the school apologize, rescind the suspension, and allow Albrecht to attend different school outside the district. "If I can't get those things I'm suing," she says.
The claim that Confederate flags are just innocent symbols of "Southern heritage" is a common one, but the fact is that for many people, they represent slavery. Students and staff should be able to attend school without having a graphical reminder of the mass subjugation of human beings thrown in their faces, and if West thinks her daughter's right to show Virginia pride trumps that, I don't have a lot of sympathy for her position. This could have been an opportunity for Albrecht to learn the importance of racial sensitivity — unfortunately, it looks like instead she's learning that when she offends people, her mom will swoop in to save the day.
Mother Of East Windsor Teen Suspended For Confederate Flag Shirt Threatens To Sue School [Times of Trenton]
NJ Mom Threatens To Sue Over Confederate Flag Shirt-Wearing Daughter's Suspension [Gothamist]
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