“An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is, in reality, expressing the highest respect for the law”
― Martin Luther King Jr.
By Black Wall St. Times Staff,
The young lady who broke the silence regarding the racial undertones and white micro-aggressive behavior at the prestigious and iconic Booker T. Washington High School is a fourth generation Hornet.
Not only is she the embodiment of what it means to be academically excellent, by being one of a handful of students across the nation to earn a perfect score on the National Advanced Placement History Exam, she is a responsible daughter and community advocate/activist. She is also the Co-Class President at Booker T. Washington High School. She is #BlackGirlMagic because, on top of her heavy academic course-load and many responsibilities as Class President, she works 20 hours a week to save money for college.
This amazing young “mover and shaker” spent two weeks of her summer interning in Washington D.C. for the A.C.L.U. At the end of her internship, they offered the high schooler a full-time job for the summer of 2018. Clearly, they see the value and intellect she brings to the table. Her G.P.A. nearly a 5.0 as a result of taking I.B. and A.P. classes in spaces where she is one of a few African-American faces in an ocean of white privilege. Their resources, although not all, allowing many of them to not have to work 20 hours a week on top of the heavy academic course load which gives them a huge advantage.
However, leaders aren’t born in wealthy families, and they’re not made because of academic excellence; race has very little to no benefactor as a determinate to if someone is to become a leader. No! Leaders are born in the fire amid struggle and sometimes controversy.
This Senior took a stand against white supremacy through silent protest bearing a shirt
“Dear White Hornets Stop Trying to Replace our traditions with your whiteness. Respect our school”
and the reproach from some of her white classmates was all too familiar – white privileged complained and leaked the incident to mainstream media and the emerging leader was reprimanded, rebuked, and sentenced to a week of in-school suspension. The historically black school’s administrators tried to silence her but unintentionally elevated a much more pervasive problem that has haunted the city for decades, an all-black town that experienced the worst racial massacre in U.S. history when its white citizens tried to genocide its black citizens. Over 400 black souls were lost during the 1921 Greenwood/Tulsa Massacre, and the desire for white superiority to maintain the status quo was the end goal.
Principal Melissa Woolridge, African-American, informed the mother regarding the appeal process, which the young leader’s mother was told she would need to file an appeal with Pauline Harrison, Human Rights Coordinator for Tulsa Public Schools. The mother typed a formal complaint, which was in return met with Mrs. Harrison informing the mother that in-school suspension is at the discretion of the school’s principal which is Dr. Woolridge. The mother informed us she felt Principle Woolridge had purposefully misled her into believing that Mrs. Harrison was in charge of all appeals of suspensions including T.R.A.C.E
According to the student, Dr. Woolridge pulled in the Dean of Disciplinary Action, William Thompson, a TPS transfer from McClain High School. Mr. Thompson self-identifies as “mixed,” according to students who attend the school. Mr. Thompson vocalized to the student that he was offended by the student’s t-shirt, again titled with the slogan
“White Hornets, respect our traditions.”
To make matters more awkward for the student he went on to say
“Well, you know I’m 1/4 white and Mexican and black but the white part of me feels very offended by your shirt,”
and allegedly informed Dr. Woolridge that the young lady should be suspended for more than a week. Dr. Woolridge sentenced the African-American Co-Class President for the Class of 2018 of Booker T. Washington High School, a student with nearly a 5.0 G.P.A., and that perfect A.P. History Score, a student who has friends of all racial groups, a student of Color – an African American, to one week of in-school suspension. A decision that has outraged the students of color and their white allies, the residents of north Tulsa, and the Booker T. alum and many of those alumni are old enough to remember Jim Crow when Booker T. was one of the only schools black students could attend in Tulsa, Okla.
“It was truly a community school,” the students mother said.
Paulin Harrison’s office replied with
“Appeals aren’t recognized for in-school suspension, only out of school suspensions.”
Dean William Thompson and Principal Dr. Woolridge lashed the student with a Code 315 violation.
Code 315 — Discriminatory Harassment: Unwelcome remarks or behavior based on a student’s race, religion, disability, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity or ethnic heritage that is severe, persistent or pervasive enough to create an intimidating or hostile learning environment.
Sending the wrong message to students of color which says if you speak out against white supremacy at Booker T. prepare to be silenced with detention.
Perhaps, the encroachment of white supremacist micro-aggressions wasn’t enough to classify as a Code 315 violation for discriminatory harassment.
You be the judge: