Yesterday was Father's Day, and I would like to give a big shout out to all those fathers out there who celebrated it with their families and who can close their eyes at night and be proud of the job that they did raising their child or children.
I don't have any children, but I thought about a young man from Amite, Louisiana, who was by all accounts an excellent student, on his way to becoming his class valedictorian, but sadly was denied a chance to graduate with his peers because he wouldn't shave his beard.
"The valedictorian at Amite High School wasn't allowed to participate in his graduation because he had a goatee, according to a report.
Andrew Jones, a 4.0 student and standout athlete, missed out on walking with his classmates for graduation on Thursday, WWL-TV reported.
The night of graduation, Jones and 13 other students were given the ultimatum to go to the bathroom and shave or not participate in the ceremony. Jones was the only one to refuse, saying he had never been told to shave prior, according to the report.
The school has a policy of having no facial hair on male students, and Superintendent Mark Kolwe said Jones was informed three times he had to shave.
"Eventually they took my gown," Jones told WWL. Jones had shaved his beard down to a simple goatee for the graduation ceremony. "They told me they had to take my gown from me."
Following the ceremony, a rally has been planned for Monday at 2 p.m. outside the Tangipahoa Parish School Board Office. The Tangipahoa chapter of the NCAAP is planning the rally — Jones is African-American — and the chapter discovered photos of white students with facial hair participating in graduation in previous Amite High ceremonies....
...The story has gained national attention the last few days, with even The Roots' drummer Questlove commenting on it on Twitter:" [Source]
So if I was that young man's father, what would I tell him? I would certainly be proud of him for taking a principled stance by defying what is, in my opinion, a silly rule given the nature of the school and the age of the kids it was meant for.
On the other hand, shouldn't I teach him that there are always going to be obstacles in life, and that he should choose his battles, wisely? There are always going to be rules that we consider silly, but should we always break them?
This is a tough call for me, because I also suspect that there is an element of racism in this story. (Sorry, I know that it's 2016, but I also know a little bit about Louisiana.) I am not living in this young man's shoes and there is no telling what he has had to endure to get to this point in his life.
The good news is that this is obviously a smart and focused young man, so whatever his parents decided to tell him will not just go in one ear and out the other.
The problem is, as a parent, I am not sure just what the hell I would have told him.