It is no wonder the “Black Lives Matter” banner was taken down from the atrium of Yorktown High School on Feb. 8, due to expressed concerns about its implications. In her article “Black Lives Matter Banner Removed at Yorktown,” Eden Brown wrote “students have limited First Amendment rights when it comes to activity which is perceived as ‘disruptive.’” With regards to this disruptiveness, a key reason for removing the banner was that it challenged the social norms of the school environment. While there was not an explicit rule against putting up such a banner, the social atmosphere discouraged it because some found it to be unsettling. In order to reduce criticism and prevent negative comments and attitudes from spreading, it was necessary to remove the cause of such responses, in this case, for the well-being of the school.
However, this does not imply that the topic itself should be discouraged. The controversial phrase “Black Lives Matter” is subjective because of the fact that people can take it to mean different things. Certain groups of both parents and students felt racially or politically threatened by it. If the aim of the students who put up the banner, though, was to raise awareness about racial issues and the challenges African Americans face in today’s society, then these important themes can certainly be represented in other ways besides advocating on YHS grounds for a particular political movement that is currently controversial. Students should focus on embracing Black History Month for its legacy — aside from current political disputes. Yorktown students surely deserve to share, in unique and not inherently political ways, the values that race does not define us and that people of color should not be treated any differently.
The writer is a freshman at James Madison University.