A Queens assistant principal is under fire for mocking a student who wanted to wear Malcolm X‘s name on his senior sweater.
Malcolm Xavier Combs, a student at Christ the King High School, told the New York Daily News that a school administrator, Veronica Arbitello, called him to her office to talk about his request to have the name on his sweater.
“[She] told me … that’s someone I don’t want to be associated with,” Combs said. “All I wanted was the ‘X.’ My name is Malcolm Xavier Combs.”
But Arbitello took it one step further and then started to mock Combs for his request. The administrator laughed with her husband, Coach Joe Arbitello, about the name and introduced him as “the new Malcolm X.”
“I felt insulted,” Combs said. “They just laughed at me … that’s my name, Malcolm X, not a nickname.”
Although Combs ended up canceling the order for the sweater, when he talked to his parents about the problem, they said that they hadn’t been contacted by the school or Arbitello about the sweater. He was left feeling humiliated and without the senior swag he’d hoped to wear.
Christ the King senior Malcolm Xavier Combs wanted “Malcolm X Combs” on class sweater but admin told him no, “that’s someone you don’t want to be associated with” – another example of insensitivity or racism in NYC schools uncovered by @ChrisCarrega https://t.co/yOVovAkEuc pic.twitter.com/CXUhH399ZT
— Ben Chapman (@NYDNBenChapman) February 8, 2018
The parents take action
While Combs’ parents said that they would not be pursuing legal action against the school, they have scheduled a meeting on Thursday at the school and have asked the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network to attend.
Mychelle Combs, Malcolm’s mother, said that she hopes the meeting will lead to changes like sensitivity training at the school.
A crisis director for NAN responded to the request registering the organization’s shock at the incident.
“This is absurd that in 2018 we have to teach school administration how to be culturally sensitive,” said the Rev. Kevin McCall. “In the spirit of Malcolm X, we’re calling cultural inclusion events with this school administration so that they can understand what it means to be Black in America.”