America has rightfully earned the nickname of being a global “melting pot” because of its diversity in culture and people. Millions of Cubans, Haitians, various Islanders, Mexicans have all come to the country for different reasons, whether it be to escape oppression or get a taste of the “American dream.” This, in turn, has cemented America’s “Melting Pot” reputation.
With the influx of immigrants also comes the introduction/adaptation of various cultures and traditions. For the purpose of not offending anyone’s culture or constitutional rights, for those immigrants who have gained citizenship, America welcomes and publicly celebrates other cultures during the appropriate time of year. This leads us to why Haitians across the nation are highly upset and outraged about Haitian students at Immokalee High in Florida being kicked out of school for wearing their native flag and paraphernalia during Haitian Flag Day this year.
“This is the day that we got our freedom. Why wouldn’t I represent?” Cassidy Previlus, a sophomore at the school, told the Naples Daily News. She said more than a dozen students were sent home. “I felt discriminated [against]. We weren’t allowed to wear our own shirts. I understand them taking bandanas, but a T-shirt?,” as per sophomore Jesola Pierre told WBBH by way of Palm Beach Post, Zach Dennis.
“According to the Naples Daily News, school administrators said the shirts were against the district’s student code of conduct, which prohibits students from wearing or displaying all but four flags — the U.S. flag, the POW-MIA flag, the state of Florida flag and official school flags — on campus,” retrieved from Palm Beach Post staff writer, Zach Dennis.
Students claimed that as soon as they got off their school buses and were seen by teachers/staff wearing their Haitian cultural flag t-shirts and Haitian celebratory images, they were asked to go back home.
“As soon as we got off the bus, a teacher was, like, pointing at us,” sophomore Jesola Pierre told WBBH by way of Palm Beach Post, Zach Dennis.
On the other hand, Immokalee High School administrative staff says that students made such a disturbance last year during Haitian Flag Day that they were on guard for this year and prepared to stop any disorderly conduct before it started.
“District spokesman Greg Turchetta told the Naples Daily News that in the past, students disrupted testing and classes by running down the hallways to celebrate the occasion. “Last year, we had about 200 kids running down the hallways and blaring music,” he said. “There are assessments (Advanced Placement) exams going on at the school. Obviously, it’s imperative that there are no disruptions on that campus today,” courtesy of Palm Beach Post, Zach Dennis.
In light of the incident, Haitian people in Florida, especially Miami, showed their native country (Haiti) a lot of love, respect, and appreciation as they flooded the streets, schools and public places with their flags and other Haitian imagery.
Immigration is currently a very hot topic in America, especially considering that this is a presidential election year. It’s important that we examine our policies and treatment of our foreign brothers and sisters with respect to their culture and traditions.
Did Immokalee High School go too far with their precautionary actions? EGL supports, uplifts and encourages cultural diversity, respect, and pride, but want to hear from you about this sensitive topic.
Written By: Bridgette Dowdell, Staff Writer, Modern Domestic