Black Lives Matter, BUT there is a time and a place for such ideas.
Supporters who stand and fight for this expression would firmly disagree, but for Wagner High School this is policy. Two weeks ago, Teylor Nelson, Victoria Hall, Daija Wilkes and Jocelyn Thomas provided their assistance and participation in their high school’s annual fashion show. The ladies wore pieces designed by Jocelyn Thomas, and modeled them at the show.
Unfortunately, the style of clothing was a bit racy for the show and the school’s image. Expressing current events through fashion seemed to fall within the same controversy as short short’s and extreme cleavage. According to Wagner High School’s administration, this controversy is a major disruption to school policy. Because of this disruption, the ladies were disciplined.
— tittysorus (@heartlitation) May 15, 2015
In addition to suspension, three of the soon-to-be graduating participants were in jeopardy of graduating. The girls were not allowed to attend the school’s graduation ceremony. However, each student was allowed to make up final exams at a later date, yet feared failing the exams. The suspension meant the ladies would miss crucial class dates that covered reviews. The girls didn’t understand how their actions could equate to a “disruption” or make “a mockery of the school.”
Every year for about the past 3-5 years the fashion design department at our school has had an annual fashion show. I’ve been in the fashion class since my sophomore year. I fell in love with it, but struggled to figure out how to combine my advocacy with fashion. This year I’d finally had it with Ferguson, Baltimore, Ohio, and so on. I knew something had to be done through the art that I love, and the art that people will see. With the suicide of Leelah Alcorn, and many murders in the trans communities I knew something had to be said about this and I did want to use the fashion show as a platform… Because is that not fashion? Fashion makes statements. That’s what I did.
However, when me and the rest of my three friends were called down into the office today I was told I broke policy because although the event didn’t take place at school it was a school event. According to the Code of Conduct Handbook for our school I disrupted a school function with my views.
The signs- for me were not a protest. They may be seen as a protest but that was not my intention. I designed four pieces, and altered the garment I wore for myself, and instead of using accessories, I chose to make a literal statement with I guess what you could call a different styling approach lol. I just keep seeing “their silent protest” if you view it like that cool. Maybe it was. Especially to some people. In a way yeah I guess. But that was not what I did. Our school held a fashion show that I participated in and my models, myself included, proudly walked down the runway with a statement.
– Jocelyn Thomas via tumblr
Despite their punishment, these ladies continued to stand for what they believe in. They disagreed with the school’s extreme form of discipline, and proceeded to take action. With the help of close friends and schoolmates, the girls shared their story with the world through social media with the hashtag “#Wagner4”. Their efforts caught the attention of SATX4 activist, Mike Lowe. Lowe soon created a petition to “drop the suspension and any other disciplinary actions” against Victoria Hall, Teylor Nelson, Jocelyn Thomas and Daija Wilkes.
Within twenty four hours, the petition received over 1,700 signatures. In addition to the U.S., the petition garnered responses from Australia and South Africa.
On May 19th, the #Wagner4 obtained justice.
I CAN WALK THE STAGE
I CAN SAY MY VP SPEECH
MY SUSPENSION IS WIPED OFF MY RECORD
— YoungHotEbony (@The_Art_chitect) May 20, 2015
Suspension was omitted from each student’s permanent record, and the three seniors will now be able to walk the stage. Congratulations to these bold and beautiful ladies!
Justice isn’t often served for the victims of police brutality. This is unfortunate. It is even more unfortunate that protesters receive punishment for voicing this injustice in the land of the free. You young ladies have taken a step in destroying one of the many unjust cases our nation is faced with. You have shown the world that our lips will not be locked for another person’s comfort, and for that…
I bow to you Beautiful African Queens.