Flap over 'promposal' with Confederate Flag raises racism accusations
Published Thursday, June 1, 2017 5:33PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, June 1, 2017 6:48PM EDT
It was meant to be a romantic gesture. Instead, a promposal involving a Confederate flag has raised accusations of racism. The student attends West Carleton secondary school in Ottawa’s west end, where the controversy continued today. The “promposal” was posted on Instagram and almost instantly caused a stir. But not the kind of romantic reaction this young student was hoping for.
It's become a bit of a thing to come up with the perfect “promposal.” Some students have asked their dates to be their partners at their high school prom from the back of a horse, or while jumping out of a plane. One West Carleton Secondary student thought she had it figured out with a play on words from the 80's TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.
"Hopefully this isn't a Hazzard,” her promposal read "but I would General Lee generally like to go to the prom with you." The flag in the background of her promposal photo had adorned the top of the Dukes Dodge Charger, named the General Lee. It's also the Confederate Flag from the American Civil War, associated now with racism, slavery and white supremacy.
“I was really shocked,” says West Carleton student Tomas McDermott, “It's 2017. You'd think more people would be informed on this topic.”
The photo caused a flurry of activity on social media today and a lot of discussion at the high school she attends.
“It's like posting a picture with the Nazi flag,” added student Hadi Hamzeh, “It has serious connotations behind it.”
But many rushed to the defence of the girl as well.
“If anyone knows who posted it,” said student Roy McCoy, “she's the nicest person you've ever met and she wouldn’t' do this to offend anybody.”
In fact, she apologized on Instagram and took the post down, saying, “I’m really sorry if people took this the wrong way. I understand how the flag can be represented negatively.”
But it sparked a heated discussion outside West Carleton Secondary about racism in the school.
“I am a black Muslim. Ever since grade 9,” said student Hamze Elmi, “I’ve witnessed racism at this school I've been called the "n" word, people saying racist things to me.”
“She apologized on her Instagram and said what she did was wrong,” added a student who didn’t want to leave her name, “But you can't redo a promposal.”
The principal says the school has addressed the issue and spoken with the students involved.
“There's been some harm done through this social media post,” says Principal Reg Laverne, “and we want them to be part of recognizing the harm and repairing that harm.”
For some students, it is also about repairing a rift in their school, too.
Farah Osman is the school’s co-president, “I know they're nice girls and I know it wasn't their intentions at all,” she says, “That's not what our school stands for at all.”