Arkansas high school basketball coach slams school leaders over Black History Month T-shirt ban

The Conway School District in Arkansas is facing scrutiny for racial insensitivity after its Superintendent Jeff Collum ordered its basketball players and basketball coach to quit wearing T-shirts that celebrate Black History Month during games, following a trend started in both the professional and college basketball ranks.

The T-shirts involved were printed black with 'Celebrate Black History' on the front with the school's cat mascot in red, green and yellow instead of the school's normal colors of blue and white. Alternate school t-shirt colors of pink, purple and red have all been worn during the school year to note different causes and social movements.

"We were given the superintendent's directive to stop wearing the shirts in two different meetings and administrators," Johnson said during a post on Facebook Live. "I was the only Black person in the room. We were told to stay in a safe place, [that] we could only wear blue and white. An atheist and satanic coalition were referenced as the reason to pause the Celebrate Black History Month T-shirts until further discussion on allowable initiatives."

The initial complaint came to Conway School District board member Dr. David Naylor, Jr.

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Johnson did not identify the board member that made the comparison to atheism and satanic culture, and she was adamant that the district's lack of diversity was the foundation in their racially insensitive ruling.

The Arkansas Times obtained an email that the statement was made by Jason Black, the deputy superintendent for the school district.

"For a white authority figure to have this conversation with me -- a Black employee -- has been a traumatic experience," Johnson said in her post through a shaky voice that was cracking during her statement.

Black or Collum has have not provided a public statement on the situation.

"I've heard multiple apologies, but I've also heard a lot of justification and explanations, calling it a misunderstanding, a mishandling, and a miscommunication," Johnson said. "I've heard that it was the colors, not the message, that it was because we didn't ask permission, and lately I've heard it was due to the trademark."

Johnson continued.

"But make no mistake. If I had gone along with the directive [to stop wearing the T-shirts] as I was obviously expected to do, there would be no apology, no thought of harm done, and definitely no acknowledgement of mistakes made or retractions given."