I do my best to keep my "radio" life and my personal life as separate as possible, but there are bound to be moments where the two intertwine, anyhow. So I'll let y'all know a little something about me that I don't spend a lot of time on the air dwelling on: I believe "love is love," I believe "Black Lives Matter" (and I support law enforcement, too - I think the two ideals can coexist) and I believe it's important to respect and embrace diversity.
So when a Carolina Forest High School student shared a photo in a closed group forum we're both members of, I didn't hesitate to share it Saturday morning, along with my outrage. The now infamous photo is below.
The caption I gave this photo on my personal Facebook profile was "Carolina Forest HS ... what historically ignorant faculty member and administrator felt mocking genocide was appropriate? #takeitdown ."
Okay, maybe a bit stern on my part, but I was deeply bothered that this poster was on display.
It didn't take long for a friend of mine - a CFHS faculty member at that - to reach out to me wondering (on behalf of the principal) where I found this photo. I'm not sure "a closed group forum" and "I protect my sources" was satisfactory, initially, but I do know this: 47 shares later, it became apparent to school officials that the general public believed that the poster was in poor taste.
There's no valid argument to the contrary, either, so y'all can save the keyboard strokes.
Anyhow, I felt compelled to follow-up my sharing of that photo with a follow-up post that read:
"Before anybody tries to get it twisted, i have no issues with Carolina Forest HS or their students or community. I've personally seen to it we are a part of their end of school year activities for many years now. Don't try making this about me. It's about a sign that should never have been signed off on and put on display. I don't personally think the kids behind meant ill will but I am a bit surprised a faculty member signed off on its message and that the sign spent more than two minutes on display before anyone came to their senses walking by it. On a positive note, I've been told the insensitive banner IS coming down. This is a teachable moment. Young minds eager to know "why" ought be taught why. Let's do our jobs, grown ups."
Fortunately, no one (yet) has come at me charging that I'm somehow "anti-Carolina Forest" or picking on a school or students or even a faculty member. I'm not. I was just very disappointed that someone in an adult faculty role signed off on this poster.
As I said on social media, I believe this is a teachable moment, and I'm certain no student or students meant anything malicious here; but if they didn't know why the phrase "we'll leave you in a trail of tears" was so distasteful before, I really hope this "teachable moment" concludes with them knowing why it is.
I commend the school and Horry County Schools for handling this situation as they did. Horry County Schools spokeswoman Lisa Bourcier released a statement to local media that read:
"We regret the banner was created, but the incident was addressed on Saturday and it was removed at that time from the cafeteria. We have also addressed the situation and are confident that the persons responsible for the banner at no time intended for it to be offensive. The student body at Carolina Forest High School (CFHS) is extremely diverse and comes from many different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Teenagers, as well as adults, act sometimes without first thinking about how their actions may impact others. CFHS is an educational institution and will use this situation as a learning opportunity. At no time would the administration want a student or staff member to feel as if he/she is in an intolerant environment.
Again, we want everyone to know the situation has been addressed and the banner has been removed from the cafeteria. The District welcomes visitors to our schools to experience the learning and working environment that is created each day for our students and staff."
The school said they'd use this situation as a "learning experience."
See? Teachable moment. Also why I always advocate "see something? SAY something."
Carolina Forest is a great school, with great students, teachers & faculty members and they handled this in a timely and appropriate manner, so here's where I say instead of us condemning a momentary lapse in judgement by a few we give the school and its community credit for reacting in a respectful manner.
Good luck on Friday, too! Should be a great game between two really good teams.