Ken Berwitz

The middle school in Rowlett, a town in north Texas, had a Black History Month celebration on Friday – which stirred up enough of a controversy so that the town\’s police chief spoke up, calling it “A direct attack on police”, and “a sad day” for Rowlett.

Here is a picture of part of that celebration. See if you can figure out what could possibly be controversial or offensive about it:

Controversial Black History Program (courtesy: CBS11 viewer)

Let\’s see.  We have:

-“Just Young Black & Walking”:  the slogan on a sign held up by a young Black boy, maybe 10 – 12 years old, during a 2013 rally protesting the death of Trayvon Martin – who was shot while on top of  George Zimmerman and assaulting him. as corroborated by both eye witness testimony and the lacerations/other injuries on the back of Zimmerman\’s head;

-“Black Lives Matter” – the slogan of a racist hate group which, among other things, demands Blacks only/no Whites allowed areas on college campuses;

-“The Whole System Is Guilty” – the equivalent of collectively blaming all Blacks for Black street crime.

-“I Can\’t Breathe” – the words stated by Eric Garner, taken down in a “choke hold” of just several seconds\’ duration after the police tried, several times, to arrest him peacefully, and he resisted.  Garner had been arrested over 30 other times in the past and, at the time of his death, was out on bail for, among other things, selling cigarettes illegally, marijuana possession and driving without a license.  He was taken away in an ambulance and pronounced dead an hour later.  it is unclear when he actually died, but the reason for his death could have included the “chokehold” (police dispute that is what it was), his obesity (about 350 lbs), and/or his heart, diabetes and asthma problems.

-“Hands Up Don\’t Shoot” – what Michael Brown was supposed to have said while kneeling on the ground and trying to surrender, before being shot and killed by officer Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri.  The autopsy, including forensics and the entry points of the bullets, proved he was not kneeling and his hands could not have been held up in surrender.

Now what could anyone find controversial or offensive about that?  
Oh, and here is the letter subsequently sent to the school staff by Principal Michael Bland:


While our campus celebrated theaccomplishments of African Americans past, present and future, an unfortunateevent occurred during the first performance. There was a sign used in one ofthe skits that displayed a highly politicized message. Although the intent ofthe performers was not to offend anyone\’s political views, the use of apoliticized message on a middle school campus was not the best choice. Themessage displayed on the sign had political, social and cultural relevance asit relates to social studies curriculum and academic discourse, but was notappropriate and could be misconstrued as advocating for and encouragingstudents to take a political stance. It could also be taken offensively by lawenforcement who risk life and limb daily for our personal wellbeing.

If any of the politicalmessages on the signs offended anyone, I apologize on behalf of theadministration. In closing, the Black History program was a success! Thecultural exchange was embraced by the staff, students and community membersthat attended. I hope this apology finds everyone in the best of spirits. Havea great weekend!

Michael Bland

Yep, there you go.  Just one sign is a problem….and sorry if anyone didn\’t like the others.  But the program was a success, and have a great weekend!

If you were the parent of a child at Rowlett Middle School, how would you have reacted to this?

Your call.

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