Kirsten West Savali said she did not give her nine-year-old son, Dash, permission to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance in his classroom — “nor did he need it,” she emphasized in an op-ed. But Dash’s teachers did not feel the same way, and he was kicked out of class for his action.
The principal told Savali that the two teachers in question have been disciplined. One teacher, identified in a note as “Ms. Witte,” has since written an apology to the fourth grader — a letter that was “a far cry” from initially telling Savali that she was “highly offended at the taking a knee” in her classroom.
Savali summed it up as follows:
“Two educators were so threatened by a 9-year-old child protesting the state-sanctioned murders of black people that they silenced and intimidated him because their feelings and their sense of entitlement mattered more to them than a boy searching for a way to make sense of and join the revolution around him.”
Despite his young age, Dash is on his way to having his name tied to those of Black activists, such as Colin Kaepernick. Savali shared a photo of her son at a rally protesting the death of Trayvon Martin. Dash, just three years old at the time, held a bag of Skittles, while his then nine-year-old brother held a can of Arizona iced tea. They held a sign that read: “Do I Look Suspicious I am Trayvon Martin.” Both of them wore black hoodies with the hoods up.
Kaepernick has inspired Dash, according to Savali. And while he’s aware of the NFL blackballing the former 49ers player, “Dash was not prepared for the judgment.”
What nine-year-old would be
According to Savali, Dash’s teacher told her just several weeks before the incident that she cared deeply about Dash and wanted Dash to “think of her as his mom” during school.
But Dash’s teacher will never have to sit Dash down and tell him how to act in the event he encounters a police officer. This is a task for Savali, who had this conversation with her son in March.
Just after the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., “I sat in the parking lot of a Baskin-Robbins trying to teach my son, who is on spring break, how to survive an encounter with public servants who are sworn to keep him safe.”
Savali noted that Dash’s teacher is not white, “but one doesn’t have to be to uphold white supremacy.”
Dash’s teacher can consider herself a “mom” to her students all she wants, but at the end of the day, her parental duties stop short if she finds herself so troubled by Dash’s Blackness.