Monday, June 20, 2016

To shave or not to shave: that is the question.

Image result for amite andrew jones image 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.



dinthebeast said...

Count this as one more reason I never wanted kids. My take on this is as long as he got his diploma, the choice was his whether a ceremony was more important than his bodily autonomy. He seems likely to be smart enough to figure it out.

-Doug in Oakland

Anonymous said...

At this point being that he is the valedictorian and obviously as you stated Field, an intelligent, level headed and focused young man, I think he and his father/parents are on the same page on just about everything. I imagine that at the time he called his folks to let them know what was happening and they were all in agreement as to what was to be the course of action.

So if he chose to go that route,I'm also thinking there's more to this story than meets the eye at the moment. Those things don't just happen on the spot on a whim.

There's nothing to be said by the dad at the moment because obviously everything has already been said and decided. I'm sure that a valedictorian, an intelligent young man would not make a decision like this without seeking counsel from his parents first.

Now as for that school,if it has allowed white men to graduate with facial hair, then that school has a lawsuit on its little racist hands, and a whole lot of 'splainin' to do!

ArthurinCali said...

I believe he should have been able to walk at his graduation. Also, as Valedictorian, doesn't he give the graduation ceremony speech as well? I understand it is Louisiana but even taking that into consideration, it seems there could be more to this story.

ArthurinCali said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

BTW Field, I really like your posterization tonight! It's really onpointization too!

lolol! Ahahaha! Field made up a new language!LOLOL

omg I love to bother this man! x*D

Limpbaugh said...

I would have tried to convince him to shave, but been proud of him for standing up for his principles and not shaving.

PilotX said...

If as the NAACP says they let previous graduates walk with facial hair then I'm 100% on his side. That is one thing my parents drilled into me and if I ever have kids I will drill into them, do fall for the okey doke, if the rules apply to me they apply to everybody! Don't single me out, that shit happens way to often. I see it all the time on my job, something's only a problem when I do it. Sorry buddy but in this picture rat heah (Southern Louisiana for right here) this guy has a beard so uh why is now suddenly a problem? As Adlai Stevenson said "I'm prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over".

A Black Panther Forever said...

Follow the rules. Just because someone else refuse- or did not shave- you set the example. After all you are the leadership in your class as demonstrated by your by your academic excellant. If you did not want to follow the rules.. remove yourself from the proceedings and keep your mouth shut, The fact that some other person failed to follow the rules is no reason for your actions to be the same. What are you a leader or a follower.

I don't know the reasons for the policy, but I do feel there were ample time (a school 9 month period) whereby he should have organized and led others to try and change the rule. Waiting until the last minute tells me MAYBE you are immature and spoiled. Being a first generation student for integration, I remember we (the Black students) had to stage walk-outs and protests because in 1964 the white schools were not willing to accommodate some of our uniqueness in coming to their schools. Needless to say once they recognized the Black students' abilities to run that football and shoot that ball in the hoop, they begrudgingly allowed the Afro.

Isn't it sad that fifty years later my people have not- as a group- got pass our roles in Amerika..... still entertaining the majority.

field negro said...

ABPF, you are a former military man so i knew u would say that. :)

I am leaning with what Limpbaugh said on ths one.

Pilot, maybe it's the not having kids thing, but I initially thought just like u did.

Lilac, u are getting as bad as I am with this made up language. :)

Anonymous said...

I didn't make it up, you made it up! Don't be blaming me now! :) The blamerization is all yours my friend ;)

field negro said...


Frankie said...

Why are black people so homophobic?

Why are LGBT people so racist?

ctrl+halt+del said...

Study like a bookworm
Graduate with a "V"

In the spirit of "The Greatest."
Mr. Muhammad Ali

Faith_and_Fairness said...

A shout out to new blood in the form of Arthur Thurman - Welcome!!

Bravo to Mr. Field for today's commentary. Not to mention I was pleased discovering that approximately 200 people gathered at the African American Heritage Museum in Louisiana on June 17 for a special ceremony in honor of Andrew Jones, the class valedictorian graduating with a 4.0 GPA.

In much of the news stories published May 2016, the district superintendent asserted the young man defied commencement policy and even his parents. Then of course, several comments posted to these articles critique how once again the defiance is the result of parents failing to establish boundaries by not putting these "kids" in their place.

Yet this was clearly not the case because despite imparting the importance of picking one's battles in life, the parents of 18-year-old Andrew Young respected their son's decision to remain true to his principles.

As Pilot noted in his comment, we as adults, are often subjected to selective enforcement of rules, the ramifications, of which sometimes lead to unfavorable legal outcomes.

Therefore imagine the mixed messages sent to our youth and young adults who look to parents and teachers to be wise and consistent across the board.

In any event, me thinks Mr. Andrew Jones stands at the forefront of an amazing academic and vocational journey. And you heard it here first, FNs... Don't be surprised coming across future news stories announcing this young man is being honored at the high school that missed the opportunity to recognize his academic and athletic achievements in May 2016.

Anonymous said...

Black entitlement is a real thing, and is pervasive in this country.

Derek said...

White male insecurity is a real thing, and is pervasive in this country.

Facts of Life said...

Whites are more racist than blacks, but blacks are more homo/transphobic than whites.

Eric Jacobus said...

That guy sure doesn't sound like a Valedictorian. Must be the low standards in states like Louisiana.

The Shadow Knows... said...

@Field: The problem is, as a parent, I am not sure just what the hell I would have told him.

He's young. This won't be his last decision of this type. If he caves now, how will he feel about himself later, when he's faced with another crisis of conscience?

Every decision, or every choice, molds us, defines us.

It's a silly rule, and, if we had accommodated every silly rule, blacks would still be facing separate but unequal, sitting on the back of the bus, drinking from black-only water fountains, and watching movies from the balcony.

It's those who broke the "silly rules," who fought the social, political, and cultural restrictions and emerged victorious, who are celebrated today as forward thinkers and change agents.

If he were my son, I'd say let your conscience be your guide, knowing that he will not only inspire his future actions, but the future actions of others.

Thank God for the rule breakers, for such reside in the Kingdom of Change.

field negro said...

Shadow, that was well said. *head bows*

Eric J, what does a valedictorian sound like?

Oblio said...

I like his stand on principle, but if the choice was between participating in his one and only high school graduation ceremony and keeping some extraneous facial hair, he should have just shaved because IT WILL GROW BACK. He'll never get back that ceremony, no matter how much he or anyone else feels he was right, which I do. Fight the battles you can win, fall back when you can't, and always learn more to fight another day. Although he and the other students were warned about facial hair, it was still a dick maneuver by the school and gave them something to use to be so dickish. Fck them. GO ANDREW!!!!

Lt. Commander Johnson said...

I agree with you, field.

Aren't all blacks who get wasted truly scholars, athletes, true attributes to their community?

I know you. You won't answer.

Might get me some Purple Drank.

Lance Cockstrong said...

I am the cum bucket of a dead cock.

Cause I'm Special said...

Being black means always asserting the right to not have to follow the rules that everyone else does.

Lt. Commander Johnson said...


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