Jay-Z’s organization, Team ROC, has assisted a Florida sixth grader who was arrested and disciplined for refusing to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
Jabari Talbot, who attends Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida, felt like the American flag was offensive to black people, according to The Grio.
A substitute teacher ordered Talbot to stand during the Pledge; the school has since admitted that the student didn’t actually have to do.
Talbot allegedly told the substitute instructor that the flag was racist against black people and the police charged the 11-year-old boy with disrupting a school function and resisting arrest without violence after he was kicked out of his classroom, according to Bay 9 News.
In a statement to the school district, the substitute reportedly told the child, “Why, if it was so bad here, he did not go to another place to live.” The teacher said he then replied, “They brought me here.”
The instructor claims Talbot responded by saying, “Well you can always go back, because I came here from Cuba and the day I feel I’m not welcome here any more I would find another place to live.”
The teacher wrote, “Then I had to call the office because I did not want to continue dealing with him.”
After an outpouring of support from famous and non-famous people on social media, Talbot’s case was dismissed. His mother, Dhakira Talbot thanked Roc Nation for taking her son’s case.
“My son and I are grateful for all the athletes, entertainers, Roc Nation and community of supporters that have raised awareness about this injustice and showed their support—both publicly and privately,” Dhakira said. “Although Jabari’s case has been dismissed, I do want people to know this isn’t just about my son—this prejudice happens to African-American kids all across the country.”
“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs,” Alex Spiro, Talbot’s attorney who took the case pro-bono said in a statement. “He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the First Amendment.”
Glennisha Morgan is a Detroit-bred multimedia journalist and writer. She writes about intersectionality, hip-hop, pop culture, queer issues, race, feminism, and her truth. Follow her on Twitter @GlennishaMorgan