Reagan Coleman, a former cheerleader at Daphne High School in Daphne, Alabama, recently created a petition calling for school officials to punish her teammates, who posed with a shirt featuring the Confederate flag. The article of clothing in question is a white T-shirt featuring the text "I [heart symbol] redneck boys," with the heart symbol featuring the Confederate flag. Coleman, one of only two Black cheerleaders on the squad, said she immediately saw "hate" when the photo surfaced on Instagram. She went to multiple levels to complain and later quit when everyone arrived for practice "as if nothing happened."
"I went from the coach to the principal, from the principal to the superintendent," Coleman told WKRG. "And I kept getting vague answers. It was almost like everybody was reading a script. ... No matter how much I love something, no matter how passionate I am about something, I love myself more, and I respect myself more, and I could not be on that team."
The shirts read "I Love Redneck Boys."https://t.co/wFrUxqsguP— BET News (@BETNews) August 6, 2020
In the petition, Coleman explained that she isn't trying to "ignite hate" on the members of the cheerleading team. Instead, she is trying to show that Daphne's administration "has failed to release any statements" or contact anyone about the matter. She alleged that the school is known for sweeping issues under the rug, and she doesn't want the photo incident to be another secret.
Coleman also alleged that this is not the first instance of racism at Daphne High School. One example is a video on Instagram of a cheerleader using the N-word during the basketball season. Another is a screenshot of a cheerleader allegedly calling a classmate the N-word during a Snapchat message.
"There's no two sides to that flag. That means hatred, That's what it stands for for us," said Coleman's mother. "We were oppressed with that flag. They used it when they burned crosses in our ancestors' yards. When it was railed around on horses. I don't know what history you're reading, but if you read the U.S. history, it tells you exactly what that flag stands for and what it means, especially to African-Americans."
The photo of the girls on Instagram has been taken down after a string of negative comments. Baldwin County Public Schools also released a statement about the situation. The statement claimed that the situation "has been handled on a local level" but didn't provide any further details.
"We are aware of the situation, and it has been handled at the local school level. As with any student issue, federal law prohibits us from discussing disciplinary actions, if any, involving our students," the statement said. "Our system has implemented sensitivity programs and Superintendent Tyler has stressed that we have a zero tolerance for racism and bullying in our system."