Kentucky school likes their confederate symbols

Filed under: Teens, Day Care & Education

The walls of Allen Central High School in eastern Kentucky sport pictures of the school mascot, a confederate soldier. The confederate battle flag is featured prominently throughout the school. You'd think they might look for something a little less controversial, something not so heavily associated with slavery and racism, but you'd be wrong. The student body, the teachers, and the school board -- for the most part -- are quite happy with the status quo.

"I have colored friends around here and they never say anything," said Tiffany Owens, an eighteen-year-old cheerleader at Allen Central. I'm not surprised that they don't say anything; African-American students in Floyd County, where Allen Central is located, make up just over one half of one percent of the student body. There are more than 6,300 white kids in the county and only 33 African-Americans.

The students do understand the issue. "If I was black, it probably would bother me," said eighteen-year-old Charles Randolph. He doesn't hate anyone, though. Really. It's not about that. "But if they can understand it wasn't put toward them in hatred, it wouldn't be an issue." If they would just stop being so thin skinned about it all, there wouldn't be a problem, right? I mean, what's a little slavery among friends, eh? Besides, there are only a few black kids around anyway, so who cares what they think?

And what do they think? Ted Honaker, one of just two dozen black kids at nearby Pikeville High, said "It really makes me mad." He plays basketball for Pikeville and plays against Allen Central. He says he sick of looking at the confederate flags in the stands during games. He's also tired of people assuming that the black students don't care about the issue. "It brings back slavery and what happened to my ancestors," he said.

"When these kids say, 'This doesn't represent race to me,' they're saying they have forgotten history," according to Jonathan Zimmerman, a professor of education and history at New York University. Steven Voss, a political science professor at the University of Kentucky notes that "You don't have to buy that the Confederate flag means anything bad to recognize that it hurts people's feelings and should be done away with."

It seems to me that what these kids are learning is that they don't have to consider the feelings of others, especially when those others are such a significant minority. That's not a lesson I would want my kids to learn. I guess we can just be thankful, at the very least, that these kids do have some "colored friends" and that they're not racist or anything.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.