Published February 2, 2021
East Ridge, TN – Parents in Hamilton County took to social media Monday to express their distaste for the most recently released newsletter from East Ridge Middle School, some went as far as to call the incident “horrifying.”
In response online, District 8 School Board Member Tucker McClendon addressed the issue saying “I’m aware of the newsletter that went out today from a school in my district. I have full confidence in Principal Drake and she will be issuing an apology shortly.”
Later Monday evening, ERMS Principal Christy Drake issued an apology.
What could Drake have possibly released in the public newsletter that enraged some parents so quickly?
“All Lives Matter.”
Principal Drake, an African American woman herself, made the decision to select this as a theme for the school’s monthly newsletter which was inspired by February being Black History Month.
The school has long maintained a mission statement that is visibly posted around the campus: “Where Every Child Matters.”
According to the Tennessee Department of Education’s School Report Card, 34.9 % of the middle school’s students are Black, while white students make up 27.2% of the population, Hispanic students 36% and Asian students 1.6%.
The line of thought in choosing such a theme, to some, then seems perfectly reasonable and doesn’t appear to warrant public outrage.
Unfortunately, due to heightened sensitivity to statements such as this has become all too common across social media and a few parents who feel personally uncomfortable with the phrase have made it their mission to make a pariah out of Principal Drake.
Drake’s apology stated that she had not fully considered the context of the theme and that it was directly inspired by the aforementioned statement on a mural located in the school.
She further expressed her sentiment by saying, “I firmly believe that every child that walks through the doors of East Ridge Middle School matters, and my heart was to emphasize how important each one of our students are to me.”
“As a black woman in leadership, I embrace civil rights, Black History Month and the sacrifices that have been made by those who came before me. I hope that my students, many of whom look like me, believe in the possibilities of their unlimited potential,” Drake said.
Upset parents are calling Drake “willfully ignorant” and tone deaf, considering this an act that somehow ostracized a large part of the student body, despite the words themselves being inclusive.
Some have even gone as far as saying on Facebook that every parent should pull their child out of ERMS and that the apology will never be good enough.
The political implications of the statement have been in the public eye since as early as 2012, but recently gained a resurgence in popularity in response to “Black Lives Matter” protests across the country.
While it is apparent that many consider the phrase “All Lives Matter” to be a “racist dog whistle,” others aren’t so sure the response is proportionate to the issue.
This story will likely continue to evolve as locals respond. Check back for further coverage.