A group of Alabama cheerleaders have come under fire for posing with a T-shirt bearing the image of the Confederate flag that said ‘I love Redneck Boys’.
The white members of the squad were slammed by Reagan Coleman, a black cheerleader on the team who has since quit.
The controversial photo shows six white girls, four of whom are Daphne High School cheerleaders.
It was posted on July 4 and was met with outrage over the symbol, which is associated with racism and oppression.
‘I immediately see hate,’ Reagan said to WKRG.
Reagan’s mother Latitah Coleman said: ‘There’s no two sides to that flag. That means hatred, That’s what it stands for for us. We were oppressed with that flag.
‘They used it when they burned crosses in our ancestors’ yards. When it was railed around on horses.
‘I don’t know what history you’re reading, but if you read the U.S. history, it tells you exactly what that flag stands for and what it means, especially to African-Americans.’
The photo was posted by one of the cheerleaders on Instagram but it was immediately taken down following backlash in the comments section.
Latitah said she spoke with school officials about the photo – but claims there has been no punishment for the photo.
‘I went from the coach to the principal, from the principal to the superintendent. And I kept getting vague answers. It was almost like everybody was reading a script,’ she said.
Two weeks later everyone showed up for the first day of cheerleading practice as if nothing happened, prompting Reagan to quit the team.
‘No matter how much I love something, no matter how passionate I am about something, I love myself more and I respect myself more and I could not be on that team,’ Reagan said.
In light of the controversy Baldwin County Public Schools released a statement saying the Confederate flag photo was handled ‘at the local school level’.
‘We are aware of the situation and it has been handled at the local school level. As with any student issue, federal law prohibits us from discussing disciplinary actions, if any, involving our students,’ the school said in the statement.
‘Our system has implemented sensitivity programs and Superintendent Tyler has stressed that we have a zero tolerance for racism and bullying in our system.’
Reagan, who was one of two black girls on the team, says it’s not the first time she’s encountered racism on the cheer squad.
In a recently resurfaced Instagram video, a Daphne cheerleader is seen saying the n-word during basketball season. There’s also a screenshot of a cheerleader calling a classmate the n-word in a Snapchat message.
Reagan says despite the school’s claim, she hasn’t received any apology from the girls involved or their parents and they’re still on the cheer team.
A petition demanded the girls be removed from the team has racked up over 1,500 signatures as of Wednesday afternoon.
‘I feel like we’re at a time where Black voices are being heard. We’re being felt, we’re being seen. So I knew this couldn’t go unheard about. I knew I needed to share this story not for me or how I felt about the picture, but because of the other Black children that may be silenced by white administrations like these,’ Reagan said.
Reagan first spoke out about the photo on her Instagram saying: ‘Pictured here are six girls posing with a confederate/rebel flag. Four of the girls are Daphne High School Cheerleaders. I am sure many of you have already seen this photo, but since I was 1/2 of the black girls on varsity, I felt it was my duty to speak up about this.’
She reminded her followers that the Confederacy fought the Union in the Civil War to keep slavery, branding the flag as ‘racist’ and representative of the ‘brutal, tortuous, and oppressive lifestyle my ancestors endured’.
She named the cheerleaders involved and said: ‘They are still going to be able to cheer for Daphne’s black football and basketball players. They will still be able to represent the same students they have just relentlessly offended. ‘
‘I am no longer apart of Daphne’s cheer program due to their negligence, carelessness, and inactivity on this matter. I felt that I respected my self too much to remain on a team that condones this. I shouldn’t be the only one that is hurting from this situation and it feels like I am. I’m so ashamed to say I was a Trojan,’ she added.