Teachers at a school in Maryland’s 93 percent white Carroll County were recently asked to take down posters featuring diversity because they perceived them as “anti-Trump.”
Westminster High School teachers put up posters which featured Latina, Muslim and African American women, designed by Shepard Fairey, the artist who created Barack Obama’s 2008 “Hope” poster.
The “We the People” posters are rendered in American colors— red, white and blue — and captioned with messages like “we the people are greater than fear.” The posters were put up by teachers to encourage diversity at the school, according to Carrol County Public School spokesperson Carey Gaddis. Unfortunately, the posters did not sit well with some of the staff, who complained about them leading the school administration to “take them down because they were being perceived as anti-Trump by the administration.”
After the posters were taken down, teachers were once again allowed to put them up again while the administration did some further research online. However, they once again deemed the posters to be too “political” and stated teachers are not allowed to put up such statements in their classrooms “unless it’s part of a curriculum and they represent both sides,” Gaddis said.
Aaron Huey, a photojournalist who collaborated with Fairey on “We the People” said the posters are “definitely NOT anti-Trump in nature.”
“Anyone who believes that these messages are dangerous or divisive needs to check themselves,” he added.
However, Steven Johnson, the Carroll County assistant superintendent for instruction, said the issue was “symbolic.”
“The Confederate flag in and of itself has no image of slavery or hatred or oppression, but it’s symbolic of that,” he told the Huffington Post. “These posters have absolutely no mention of Trump or any other political issue, it’s the symbolism of what they were representing. They were carried in these protests.”
After the posters were once again removed, this time for good, students at Westminster High School found a creative way to show their support of minorities.
Sarah Wack, an alumnus of the school, along with her 16-year-old brother Jeffrey, who attends Westminster, started a GoFundMe page and raised over $5,065 in just two days to create T-shirts depicting the same images in the posters. Students who choose to buy the t-shirts will wear them to school on March 1 and the proceeds will be sent to the Amplifier Foundation, the organization that commissioned the art by Fairey.
“I feel like taking down the posters sent a negative message,” said Jeffrey.
Teachers are also allowed to donate to the cause in their own time, but are forbidden to wear the shirts in the school.
“In light of the recent political environment, people have been hostile and often hateful toward those of opposing viewpoints. Rather than to divide, our aim is to emphasize the unity and humanity that we all share as inhabitants of this universe,” Sheena Patel, a senior at the high school, said. “The act of banning the posters sends out a xenophobic message and shows that we are ashamed of our cultural diversity. America is, and always has been, a melting pot of cultures and our only hope through this movement is to embrace diversity and show acceptance for all colors, races, religions, sexual orientations and political viewpoints.”