EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – An Oklahoma school district is investigating after a 13-year-old student said his middle school teacher told him his T-shirt with “Black King”‘ on it was racist.
Latrell Taft, of Edmond, said he was excited to wear his new birthday present — a T-shirt proclaiming “Black King” with an outline of Africa on it — to school Tuesday.
“I am proud of my blackness, and she will never take it away from me,” Latrell Taft said. “I am a king because I think I’m a king.”
Latrell said during science class at Heartland Middle School, his teacher abruptly changed the subject from the periodic table to asking what his shirt read.
“She said that if she had a shirt that said white queen, it would have been racist,” Latrell said. “Then after that, she said we need a white history month. I said Black people don’t have enough recognition, and we barely learn about Black people in February at my school.”
Latrell told KFOR that the majority of his class sided with the teacher, calling his shirt racist.
“I was embarrassed,” Taft said.
Latrell’s mom, Melisa Shirley, indicated that there are few Black students at the school.
“He does have peers who look like him, but very few,” she said.
Shirley said she immediately called the middle school about the T-shirt incident.
“Initially, to be totally honest, I was brushed off,” she said.
A day later, Edmond Public Schools released the following statement to KFOR:
“Edmond Public Schools is aware of an incident in a classroom at Heartland Middle School involving a district employee and a 7th-grade student who wore a t-shirt featuring an outline of Africa and the words ‘Black King’ written on the front.
Upon becoming aware of the incident, the school site and the district began a prompt investigation which is ongoing. District staff is also in contact with the parent of the student.
If it is determined that the student was the target of discrimination, bullying, or racism, appropriate and swift action will be taken as required by District policy.
Edmond Public Schools prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, and religion, and complies with all federal and state civil rights laws. Furthermore, the district has taken numerous steps to address discrimination in Edmond schools, including providing professional development for staff on the issue of unconscious bias and ensuring equity for all. The district administration is continuing to assess the need for more training and professional development in this important area.”EDMOND PUBLIC SCHOOLS
“There should not be educators like this,” Shirley said. “I think she should be reprimanded.”
Meanwhile, Latrell said some of his classmates have contacted him to apologize.
“I would tell her Black is beautiful,” Latrell said, speaking about the teacher. He added that he doesn’t want to go back to school while the teacher is still employed.
Shirley says she has a meeting with the middle school principal Thursday morning.