Student ejected from ceremony for graduating while black

It’s wrong to enforce rules that shouldn’t exist … so, yeah, about that. :laughing:

Tinker has been taken repeatedly as precedent in case law for any number of things. There’s no reason to doubt that the courts would see a specific, non-hateful cultural expression as being less protected than a protest against the Vietnam war.

If the school can’t manage to write rules that prevent kids from “tricking out their sweet sweet graduation robes” without sending cops to eject a kid for wearing a kente cloth, then maybe they’d just better prepare to deal with a bunch of kids “tricking out their sweet sweet graduation robes.” :expressionless:

To any kids in the audience, I suggest flame decals, a non-functional spoiler, and running lights. :smiley:


This has come up relating to religious garb, military uniforms, and expressive decoration of cap-and-gown at HS graduations, and my recollection is that just as in the recent GRIFFITH v. CANEY VALLEY PUBLIC SCHOOLS case the conclusion in federal courts has in every case been that Tinker doesn’t apply and that the school can restrict what may be worn with the cap and gown for graduation.


So they ejected him from the ceremony because of his ethnicity. Not because he did not get prior approval for his Kente cloth, then refused to remove it, and told and administrator that he was going to walk across the stage wearing it despite the rules. He was ejected for his skin color. I did not see the part where other African American students were ejected as well, in a school that has an 18% African American student body.
I do not personally see why such an adornment should be a problem. I do see why this article headline is deceptive and clickbaity. I guess we should be optimistic that many of these reports need to either omit or modify key facts to generate the desired level of outrage.


It worked, though; you clicked, you commented. (So did I, just to tell you that.)


I know. but I read pretty much all of the articles on this site anyway. There is really no need for TMZ style headlines.


The headline’s misleading, but the story is about a black student wearing a kente cloth at a graduation ceremony who was told to remove it, refused, and had three sheriffs brought in to punt him. If you’d like to provide a story of, say, a Jew who refused to remove their yarmulke, or a white person who refused to remove their cashmere sweater draped over their shoulders and had law enforcement officers brought in to remove them, to show equal treatment I’d be quite interested to hear about it. While I can’t prove racism, the response (“the black kid is disobeying our authority, call the police”) certainly smells racist.


It’s their site, which is free for us to use; so it’s their choice as to how they word their posts and the titles thereof.

Additionally, I’ve noticed that many social networking sites do the same.

(from the linked court decision)
the school submits that the policy allows it to “convey[] one last message of […] respect for authority”

Sounds legitimate - the school is trying to teach them that they should never have respect for authority again. It is a school’s job to teach.

Still, getting the police involved is ridiculous unless the student is being violent or something. A frowny paragraph in their letter of recommendation or something would be more appropriate.


problem is, remember bonghits4jesus? the supreme court apparently thinks schools are a first amendment-free zone, at least when it comes to “drugs”… i’m sure they’d find a way to fit this case into that ruling.

I remember. Ghana is a specific place with a specific, not particularly drug centered culture. This is not bonghits4jesus. And SCOTUS implying it was would be overtly racist.


Every year there is a story like these where people don’t adhere to the dress code and are kicked out.

I can’t recall there being a dress code at mine, but probably…


So they adopt a zero tolerance policy. No need for though or analysis of context.

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Why is it wrong to have a dress code for a ceremony?

If you’re invited to a wedding and it is “black tie optional”, do you show up wearing shorts and a T-shirt and say to yourself “yeah, I’m stickin’ it to the man”? If you’re an actor in a Shakespeare play, do you show up to the performance in a hoodie because “that’s just who I am, bro”?

There is a part of graduation that is about the students, a part that is about the parents, and a part that is about the teachers and the institution. Academic regalia is a nod to a tradition that is centuries old, and is about the institution and the teachers. It is a costume in a performance. If you hated school and didn’t respect any of your teachers, don’t show up to the damn ceremony.

It has become common to put all kinds of crap on top of the mortarboard, and if that has become conventionally acceptable at a given school then that is OK, but determining what transcends taste or respect then becomes a judgment call, and not one to be made by the student alone. (The obvious equitable solution is to allow no decorations at all on _any_one’s regalia, but I think that bird has flown.) Students can choose to participate or not in this ceremony, but if they choose to do it it should be in the correct costume. If extra decorations are not permitted during the ceremony, put them on afterwards for the family photos.

All that said, in the case in question this should have all been ironed out long before the ceremony. This school was perhaps wrong to not have been clearer before the day on what was and was not acceptable. The student however was a bit self-centered for not simply agreeing to take the kente off just for the short period when he was on stage; this was evidently an option offered to him.


what i am saying is that SCOTUS is capable of utterly ridiculous decisions regarding the first amendment “because the children” and i would not be surprised if they managed to validate this school’s awful decision in the same way.

Try making some posts that violate BoingBoing forum rules and see how well that flies in this anarchist nirvana. You won’t get jackboots, just kicked out electronically.


The following message tapped out via white guy facedesking on keyboard.

Why? Please for the love of fucking god WHY?! We went through the civil rights movement to try correcting this bullshit, and yet… THIS?! Christ on a cracker crutch from mars. I wish i had some kind of solution guys. I really do, but the mindset that produces people like this is unfathomable by me.


It’s not that dress codes are inherently wrong. It’s the fact that they can’t seem to manage reasonable modifications. “If you can’t play nicely with your toys, you can’t have them.”

Yes but it’s inherently a western cultural tradition of scholarship. It’s not reasonable to demand all participants completely forgo their own culture and history in order to participate.


My questions are twofold:

Is the thing obscene?

Is there some other reason allowing this would be inherently disruptive?


I don’t even know what this means. If you have a dress code, either the code includes provisions for modifications or they don’t, and “reasonable” is not a clear rule.

For example, at my institution sashes are used to signify certain awards, so a student deciding on his own to wear one - even if it has important personal meaning - is also indirectly a statement about the school-related accomplishments of the students wearing other sashes. It would not be a reasonable modification.

When they take a group photo, and the person next to him shows the photo to her grandmother, and the grandfather asks, why does the guy next to you get to wear the big colorful sash and you don’t, what does she answer? He’s making a ceremony shared with his classmates just about him.

It’s not reasonable to demand all participants completely forgo their own culture and history in order to participate.

Seriously, nobody asked him to do that. It is great that he wants to celebrate his culture, but for the small part of this one ceremony - not even the entire ceremony - he can maybe stand in solidarity with his classmates?


I don’t like America currently.

America’s an asshole.

And stupid.