A Washington high school reportedly told students wearing red, white and blue to a 9/11 tribute could be ‘racially insensitive.’
Saturday, September 11, marked 20 years since the terror attacks which took nearly 3,000 lives in New York as the Twin Towers fell, 184 who died in the Pentagon crash and 40 who died preventing United Airlines Flight 93 from hitting its presumed target of the US Capitol.
While respects are paid every year, the anniversary saw a flood of tributes across the world. In Eastlake High School in Sammamish, Washington, students wanted to commemorate the tragedy by wearing the colours of the American flag, but the school U-turned and didn’t endorse the tribute.
Pupils attending the high school’s football game, initially Patriots Day-themed, were told wearing red, white and blue could ‘unintentionally cause offence to some who see it differently’, as per an email from Principal Chris Bede obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.
One student said he was told ‘red, white and blue was going to be seen as racially insensitive and may affect people in a way that we will not understand and for that reason that we were to change our theme.’
Shannon Parthemer, the school district’s communication director, said ‘Since it was not a home game, there was no opportunity to have an announcement about Patriots Day and to share why students were dressed in red, white and blue.’
The flag has been the subject of criticism over the past year, particularly amid Black Lives Matter protests, with the Utah chapter earlier writing on Facebook, ‘When we see this flag we know the person flying it is a racist. When we see this flag we know that the person flying it lives in a different America then we do. When we see this flag, we question your intelligence. We know to avoid you. It is a symbol of hatred.’
NPR also spoke to Americans about the flag last year, with some feeling it had been weaponised by far-right conservatives and those protesting against BLM. However, some have decided to fly it again, with one telling the outlet, ‘I’d let something that had always been for me a positive symbol take on a negative meaning and I guess I just decided to reclaim it.’
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