After a “racist” image emerged of a group of students, at least one parent freaked out, saying the photo was “soaked in white supremacy.” The students, who were painted red, white, and blue, had an “intimidating” and “threatening” message scrawled across their chests, but there’s just one problem.
Erik Christensen, a concerned father, is freaking out over a photo that was posted online showing Omaha, Nebraska, public school students painted red, white, and blue while one of them is holding a Trump MAGA flag in support of President Donald Trump. The students appeared to have the words “world war” spelled out on their chests, upsetting Christensen even further.
“I think it was intimidating. I think it was threatening. I think it was racist,” Christensen told WOWT, regarding the photo of students who attended an Elkhorn South High School football game recently. “I felt like it was kind of soaked in white supremacy,” he added, explaining that when he first saw the picture, he was angry and quickly became concerned for his stepdaughter.
“I literally had to get up this morning, and I had to wonder if she was going to be OK when she went to school because this was the kind of environment that she was living in — one of very few black students or minority students at Elkhorn at all,” Christensen explained to the station. However, not everything is as it may have initially appeared.
According to Principal Mark Kalvoda, the photo in question was taken out of context. In fact, it was only a partial image. Clearing the air, the principal explained that the full image shows more students spelling out “2X World War Champs.” They were celebrating the fact that the country won two world wars as part of a “USA Out” theme for the game during which students were supposed to show their patriotism, The Blaze reported.
As for the “Make America Great Again” flag supporting Trump, the principal told the outlet that political speech is protected. Kalvoda’s explanation didn’t bring any comfort to Christensen, who said he had several conversations with school officials. “Can I take a ‘Black Lives Matter’ sign to the football game?” the upset father asked WOWT. “And can I do it in the front row of the football game?” he furthered.
Despite the intention of the display, Christensen said he wants the school to understand how the act may have been perceived by other students. “How did black students respond to it?” he asked. “How did minority students respond to it? How did other students that are white respond to it?”
Kalvoda told the station that he spoke with students of color and their families the Monday following the game and explained that the school is still looking into the incident, adding that there’s an ongoing investigation. As for the Nebraska School Activities Association, it said it does not have specific language in its guidelines that addresses political signs at games, according to the local news station.
This isn’t the first time a school in the Elkhorn City School district has made headlines in recent years. Manchester Elementary also made the news when their principal was placed on leave in December 2018 after banning Christmas-related items, including candy canes due to their “J” shape, which stands “for Jesus,” she said in a memo. Her memo also said the red in candy canes “is for the blood of Christ, and the white is a symbol of his resurrection,” The Blaze reported.
Following the controversy, the principal stepped down in January 2019, according to the Omaha World-Herald. But, this only led to more problems for the school when fifth-graders at Manchester voted to place words in the shape of a cross on the school’s yearbook cover last year. The yearbook got printed, leading to calls for a reprint. Ironically, the principal who stepped down would have normally had to approve the cover, but since she was on leave at the time, it threw a wrench in the usual process, The Blaze explained.
As for the photo of the students painted red, white, and blue, let this be a lesson that we should ensure we have the whole story before becoming upset. Although it’s easy to see how a message reading “World War” could be seen as threatening or even intimidating in the current political climate, it takes on a whole new meaning when we see the message in its entirety and in context.