Student ejected from ceremony for graduating while black

The college I went to sent me a letter with their graduation dress code so I just let them mail my degree to me. I still have the mailing tube. I passed my exams, turned up for classes, then got a job. Why should I take a day off for somebody’s ceremony?


This. I don’t remember specifically, but I’m pretty sure they had a rule about no personal attire that was sash like. Small things were tolerated, but I understand if you worked your ass off to earn places in clubs or other merits and then someone just puts on their own sash. I’m happy he wants to celebrate his heritage, but for the sake of a few minutes come on.


I know this is way off topic but…that HAIR.

Here’s the very picture of iconoclasm - a bunch of old white Mormon elders rocking kente cloth neckties in Africa. It could be a scene straight out of The Book of Mormon


Here’s one about a Marine not being allowed to walk during graduation because they wanted to wear their Dress-blues.


No LEOs showing up to drag him off, though.


I also wouldn’t use them at my site, which this isn’t


Perhaps the movement isn’t quite over yet?


Which makes it right? No.

So, MAYBE the school erred, but the kid definitely did?


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Why are you putting my name to that text? Neither of my posts here have those words in them.

Let’s be clear on the issue, here. Let’s imagine you are a school administrator tasked with enforcing the dress code. The code, and your enforcement thereof must, according to the constitution, be content-neutral. There are some limitations on this. For example, the court’s have held that schools can remove students whose speech content is disruptive to the learning process of other students. (You can say “fuck you” to the cops all day long but you can’t say that to a teacher during class.)

So, you are the school admin. You have a clear policy about what may and may not be worn to graduation. This is obviously put in place to avoid the extreme cases like people wearing pornographic images or swastikas on the gowns or taping the words “boing boing headline writers are becoming click baity cunts” on their hats.

Then imagine that this student, having been given a clearly-written set of rules about graduation attire, shows up in this clearly non-conforming attire. Note that the student never approached you before the ceremony and tried to work with you to figure out a way to accomplish his goals while not putting you between a rock an a hard place. Instead, he ambushes you with non-conforming attire and you may or may not know if it has any special meaning to anyone, nefarious or positive. (Another reason for dress codes: we can’t all know what every symbol means so instead of being subject to any given teacher’s ignorance, let’s just not let anything through.)

What do you do? If you let him participate, you open yourself to a discrimination lawsuit if you later tell the kid with the swastika (or the cross or Star of David or any other symbol) on his stole that he can not participate. If you don’t let him through, you are called “thug” and “racist” by websites like this.

From a legal advice standpoint, any attorney will tell you that you must try to enforce the code consistently, regardless of the content of the non-conforming attire, to protect yourself from discrimination lawsuits when you try to enforce the rule on future rule-breakers. (Note that this assumes that you agree with the law up to and including the Constitution. If you don’t then you have a different argument.)

This first step was exactly the right thing to do: they pulled the student aside and informed him that he was violating the rule and that he needed to remove the non-conforming attire. The student, once informed…yet again…of the rules, refused.

So how do you go about trying to deal with this awful choice that this student has put you in? You need to enforce the rule or open yourself to future lawsuits, but the rule says you can’t let him participate. What the story does not clarify is if the rule specifies HOW you are to Prevent him from participating. I am willing to bet it doesn’t as organizations that have to deal with this types
of thing want to keep their options open and react based on the circumstances. THAT is likely the problem.

From a “don’t open yourself to future suits” standpoint, the best thing to do would be to halt the proceedings and call the cops right away and have the student removed for trespassing before he walked the stage.

That is obviously very heavy handed.

A more reasonable way would have been to pause the proceedings, tell the person calling names to skip this student’s name unless the student removed the garment. That way, the student would have to take it upon himself to go across the stage without being called and looking like the jackass. But it avoids the cops.

Here, however, the administration chose the worst of both worlds. They let him walk a and THEN had the cops remove him.

The school district needs to publish instructions for how to deal with students like this in the future. It is not enough to tell some poor person earning way less than she should be earning for being a teacher that she must not let a student participate. They need to give very explicit instructions on how this is to be achieved. Basically, the school district has a reasonable rule given the law but wants to have their cake and eat it, too. Thus, they throw middle-management under the (school) bus.

Was this an over-reaction? Yes. Did it have ANYTHING to do with race? Nothing in the record indicates this. Does it have everything to do with school districts not being willing to give their employees explicit rules on how to handle students that put them in these situations? Yes.

Stop with the bullshit headlines and faux offense. There is more than enough injustice in the world than to worry about one smart kid who decided the rules didn’t apply to him and didn’t reach out to the school beforehand.

PS: if you, instead, think that there should be no such things as school dress codes or limits on speech in schools, that’s a different discussion. One that still has nothing to do with this bullshit headline.


I assume that if the administration did take race into account when deciding to call the police to haul the kid off for not removing a kente cloth, they weren’t about to say a peep to anyone about it, and it’s more likely an unconscious bias that they chose that route than some other. Regardless, the student handled it reasonably well, and I’m happy he chose to tweet about it and show what petty tyrants the administrators were for having the police haul him away for a trivial violation of a dress code.


I suppose that depends upon who would have attended the ceremony to see you, specifically, graduate.

Fuckin’ A, its HIS graduation my god. He wears the traditional cap and gown AND a colorful scarf. So all this fuss is necessary REALLY??? Lesson learned: fuck authority and fuck your worthless dress code “rules”. Hope he is a successful creative not giving a fuck genius. Man this is sickening but i’m sure he’ll shine it on.



I can’t recall saying that anything makes anything else “right.”

No one is forcing anyone to be here if they have an issue with the content.


At my daughter’s high school graduation I noticed quite a few things. Lots of kente cloths. Didn’t disrupt my ability to enjoy the ceremony. I also saw a person, who was clearly born male, dressed in the white robes the females were wearing. Didn’t disrupt my ability to enjoy the ceremony (actually it stood out, and I saw it as extremely positive. My daughter seemed completely unimpressed, which is pretty cool, because she accepts it on a level much deeper than I do). I saw plenty of messages on mortarboards, buttons on collars. Didn’t disrupt my ability to enjoy the ceremony. In fact, I expect it, as should every fucking adult who did the exact same shit when they were kids. Kids disrupt. Kids act out. We have much to learn from how they do so, and what they say when they do.

Those of you who think people should set things aside, and follow the rules, remember that once upon a time black people had to sit at the back of the bus. One of them didn’t. Someone has to stand up to stupid, fucked up rules, and be punished for it. Eventually, in part because someone stood up, those rules will change.

Go back and read the article and the tweets, and put yourself in his place. He asks, ‘Is your agenda worth more than my cultural pride?’ He is told he cannot, and he says, ‘I will’.

He told Atlanta Black Star it was important for him to wear the
traditional African print because as a “descendant of slaves, I have no
firm connection to my roots in Africa.” – Think about what that means.

He absolutely should have worn it, and walked across that stage proudly, and nobody should have stopped him.


White dude tells Black folks how to acceptably express themselves, story at 11.


that there is a software bug, perhaps? I definitely quoted someone else.

ETA: fixed it, for you.


Surely the right-wing blogosphere is losing their minds over this like they did over the Marine Private who wanted to wear her dress blues to her graduation ceremony, right?

Right, guys? They’re outraged over this, right?!

*crickets* Or, maybe not crickets. I made the mistake of looking at comments on Yahoo! News. Lots of bullcrap about “leftists” on this kid. For the Marine recruit, lots of reasoned dissent on why she shouldn’t, but also lots of support (and one mildly racist “at least it’s not gangbangers” comment). In both cases, it’s a kid not following the school’s arbitrary graduation dress code rules and getting booted out of graduation. Hmmmmmm.

I have a feeling that a kid showing up in a dress uniform wouldn’t be escorted out by the police. Just a hunch there.

I get that there’s a dress code and all, but police over a custom stole?