Christ the King senior Malcolm Xavier Combs wanted "Malcolm X Combs" on class sweater but admin told him no, "that's someone you don't want to be associated with" - another example of insensitivity or racism in NYC schools uncovered by @ChrisCarrega https://t.co/yOVovAkEuc pic.twitter.com/CXUhH399ZT— Ben Chapman (@NYDNBenChapman) February 8, 2018
High school senior Malcolm Xavier Combs wanted to honor his namesake by having "Malcolm X" decorated on the back of his senior sweater, but his school is denying him the freedom to do so.
The 17-year old said school official Veronica Arbitello, at Christ the King High School in Queens, New York, "told me … that's someone I don't want to be associated with," according to The Source.
Currently, it's Black History Month, and Arbitello doesn't want Combs to associate himself with an African-American Muslim minister and human rights activist. Malcolm X has a background story that any young black man can use as inspiration.
After his father died and his mother was committed to a mental institution, he found himself in foster care. As a result of his circumstances, he resorted to the street lifestyle, which included toting guns, as well as selling and using drugs, until the long arm of the law caught him.
It was in jail where Malcolm X turned his life around and converted to Islam. He became a militant follower of the Muslim faith, a humanist, and passionate civil rights leader. He is famous for being willing to fight violence with violence during the tense racial climate when he lived in Harlem.
Despite the many films and countless material detailing what Malcolm X stood for, Arbitello still views the historical figure negatively and is passing that message to students.
"They pulled him out of class to tell him that a man who said, 'A man without an education, you have nothing,' is someone he shouldn't be associated with," Combs' mother, Mychelle Combs, said, referencing Malcolm X.
This is unacceptable, and it begs one to wonder what is so off-putting about the slain civil rights icon. Is it the fact that he didn't mince words when he spoke his truth, or the fact that he was Muslim?
Combs said that Arbitello made fun of his name with her husband, Joe, who coaches basketball at the school. He joked about the matter, introducing Combs as "the new Malcolm X."
"I felt insulted. They just laughed at me … that's my name, Malcolm X, not a nickname," Combs said.
Combs has a right to be offended; his name is no laughing matter. In fact, his parents don't see the humor in the ordeal either and said that the school is not familiar with the history or impact of Malcolm X and his fight for human rights.
Combs' parents have scheduled a meeting with the school and reached out to the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network to join them, according to The Source.
As of now, there are no plans to pursue legal action, but the family said they want the school to be more sensitive to inclusivity and diversity through training and add more minority staff.
Christ the King reportedly declined to comment on the issue, but for the sake of their reputation, they should issue a statement soon because this is not a good look for them.
It is a crying shame that high school students can wear Robert E. Lee rings, but Combs can't put "Malcolm X" on the back of his sweatshirt.
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