Idaho students are protesting against their school after clothing with "brown pride" was banned, being deemed "racist," and "gang affiliated."
A video of Caldwell High School students went viral online after senior Brenda Hernandez said she was told to remove her "brown pride" sweatshirt because it could be considered racist in the same way as "white pride" clothing.
Hernandez told NBC that she was given a dress code violation for the hoodie, despite having worn it before, and that the principal referred to it as being "gang affiliated."
“He was telling me: 'You can’t wear it, because it has ‘brown pride’ on it. It’s like wearing a white pride shirt. People can find it racist,'” she recalled.
Director of communications for Caldwell, Jessica Watts, confirmed the reasoning in an email statement, which read: “In making this decision our research shows the term ‘Brown Pride’ is associated with street gangs currently operating in the Northwest. Therefore, students are not allowed per District Policy to wear clothing affiliated with gangs. We understand that some students may be concerned with this Policy."
While the district stands by the so-called "gang affiliation" of the clothing, Sonny Ligas, owner of local business Jefito Hats which sells the "brown pride" merchandise, vehemently refutes any involvement.
“It really irritates me where they can stereotype, you know, saying that it’s gang-related," Ligas said. “I’m not gang-related — how are we going to allow these people to [stain] a culture with their [words] that they know nothing about whatsoever?”
Enrollment figures show that 62 percent of Caldwell students grades K-12 are Latino. Across all students, 99 percent come from low-income families.
While local authorities report gang activity in the area — including an incident following the students' protests where Caldwell was vandalized with "white power" graffiti — Ligas and several students believe that their perceived involvement is racist, and that banning "brown pride" is a form of discrimination and censorship.
Ligas added that "brown pride" is not promoting racism or any form of superiority.
“It’s completely different," he said. "The term is associated with decades-long Chicano and Mexican American cultural and civil rights movements."
- How to Combat Anti-Trans School Policies ›
- Black Students Sue Georgia School District For Banning BLM Attire, But Allowing Confederate Flag ›