A big triumphant *Otis Yell* goes to Jay-Z and Roc Nation.
The philanthropic division of the famous entertainment company stepped in to help an 11-year-old boy who stood up against America’s favorite patriotic pastime: reciting the pledge of the allegiance to the flag.
In February, Jabari Talbot was arrested after he told a Lawton Chiles Middle Academy substitute teacher that he would not be partaking in the flag allegiance because of the racist history of the country it symbolizes. The teacher snapped back at him with the standard “Well, go back to where you came from”-type response, to which Jabari brilliantly replied, “They brought me here.”
As Weekend Editor Jay Connor pointed out in The Root’s initial reporting:
Shoutout to his substitute teacher for handling that situation completely wrong. Because if you want to dip, more power to you. But never tell a black person—whose ancestors built “the best country in the world” for free.99—to “go back” as a consequence for addressing equitable treatment. That’s not how this shit works.
Things escalated when the 11-year-old was arrested after being reported for disrupting the classroom, including alleged threats to the teacher. He was taken into custody by the Lakeland Police Department.
Jabari’s mom, Dhakira Talbot, was understandably “upset, hurt, and angry” and wanted the school to be held accountable for how the situation was handled.
After news spread of the unlawful arrest, Roc Nation’s division assisting victims of racial injustice, Team ROC, enlisted the help of attorney Alex Spiro to assist.
“Jabari is a courageous and intelligent young man who deserves all the credit for standing up for his beliefs,” Spiro said in a statement obtained via Complex. “He should’ve never been arrested or entangled in this situation—his freedom of speech rights were clearly protected under the First Amendment.”
Team ROC scored the big win, as the case has now been dismissed.
As we know, Jay isn’t a stranger to lending a hand to those in need, especially when it comes to combating injustice. Most recently, he assisted 21 Savage in his deportation case by lending his legal team.
In response to Roc Nation’s assistance, Dhakira released the following statement:
My son and I are grateful for all the athletes, entertainers, Roc Nation and community of supporters that have raised awareness about this injustice and showed their support—both publicly and privately [...]. Although Jabari’s case has been dismissed, I do want people to know this isn’t just about my son—this prejudice happens to African-American kids all across the country. The fight isn’t over, which is why I have a civil rights complaint pending with the U.S. Department of Education. At the end of the day, I want to ensure that no child ever has to experience this injustice again and we will appreciate everyone’s continued support.
Gon’ brush your shoulders off, young Jabari. And use the hand you’d usually use to place over your heart for the pledge.