I’ve never really understood why so many melanin-deficient school administrators seem to like their high school graduations to be as seasonless as their food. I mean, I get that family members can go overboard while cheering for their graduate as they cross the stage, and everyone deserves to hear their loved one’s name read aloud without being drowned out by other folks who are doing too much. But what’s with all of the over-correcting of the issue? Why tell audience members and graduates alike that they can’t show the least bit of flair during a moment high school graduates only get once in their lives? Why should parents and siblings of graduates have to stay completely silent during that moment? Folks can’t get away with a brief shout? We can’t put on for our people in even the most moderate, non-disruptive ways? We can’t even dance a little?
Apparently, the answer to all of those questions is “no,” if you ask the principal at The Philadelphia High School for Girls, who denied a graduating student, 17-year-old Hafsah Abdur-Rahman, the honor of receiving her diploma on stage because Hafsah committed the egregious offense of *checks notes* dancing for about three seconds as she walked across the stage and making people laugh a little.
From ABC 7:
“She (the principal) stole that moment from me,” said Hafsah Abdur-Rahman. “I will never get that again.”
Abdur-Rahman cried tears of humiliation instead of joy at her high school graduation on June 9.
The 17-year-old from Philadelphia said the principal warned students their families could not cheer or clap when they walked on stage.
“I understood the rules because I was saying ‘shh’ in the video. Do not say nothing because I want my diploma,” said Abdur-Rahman. “I knew and understood what we were supposed to do.”
She said because they laughed, the principal told her she could not receive her diploma.
“If they thought that I shouldn’t do ‘The Griddy’ across the stage and do the Girls’ High traditions, nobody should have been able to wave or blow kisses or do period signs because I feel like that’s the same thing. I feel like that’s unfair,” said Abdur-Rahman.
Abdur-Rahman said this moment wasn’t just for her, but it was in honor of her sister who was killed at 14 years old.
“I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t even enjoy the rest of the graduation,” said Abdur-Rahman.
She’s not alone.
Abdur-Rahman said three other girls did not get their diplomas on stage, but all of them did after the ceremony.
So, we can expect that the “rules are rules” crowd is going to defend Diploma Karen for doing her job—which apparently includes ensuring that all graduation ceremonies at her school are the flavor equivalent of mayo on white bread—but there’s no reason to be such a stickler to even the most arbitrary standards of decorum that you refuse to hand a student their diploma just for visibly enjoying themselves for the briefest of not-even-remotely-disruptive moments.
“It’s 2023, a lot has happened,” Hafsah’s mother, Jaszmine Reid, said. “These girls went through COVID together. Our kids are not even living up to see high school. I understand traditions and rules are set in place for a reason, and we’re not saying they should be broken, but it might need to be revised also.”
But even the School District of Philadelphia appears to think that the fun-loathing, Black joy-stealing principal of plain grits graduations could stand to live a little.
“The District does not condone the withholding of earned diplomas based on family members cheering for their graduates,” the district said in a statement. “We apologize to all the families and graduates who were impacted and are further looking into this matter to avoid it happening in the future.”
And, of course, Black Twitter came through in support of Black girls just trying to rock without suffering the rhythm envy of a principal who definitely claps on the two and four.
Calm down, Karen. Let the young people have their moment.
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