Recently, Urbana Middle School Principal Michelle Concepcion confiscated what she thought was a symbol of hatred from a group of students in the cafeteria. The Frederick News-Post ran a piece about it on Wednesday (“Urbana Middle School principal turns confiscated hoodlike object into diversity lesson”). No students were suspended, and the object was not identified as something racially offensive. Concepcion then used the “incident” to raise awareness about diversity and her goal of bringing a cultural arts program to the middle school.
So, breaking down what happened, there appears to be no malicious intent by the students in the cafeteria. What was potentially a situation of racial intolerance actually never took place, and Concepcion wrongly identified the purpose of the object. There is no record of any student or staff at the middle school being suspended or fired for prejudiced behavior. In regard to the incident, according to Concepcion, “I explained to students that as they learn and grow into young adults, they’ll recognize that some behaviors are inappropriate or insensitive. On this particular occasion, I explained that some objects and symbols could represent more than insensitivity; they could represent fear, a lack of understanding, ignorance, etc. I explained that the object I confiscated could represent a symbol of hatred.” This is a fair enough response, and I think Concepcion has her students’ best interest in mind.