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Debate continues over controversial Instagram photo

Posted May 7, 2015
Updated May 9, 2015

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— The heated debate over a picture taken by a student at East Chapel Hill High School continued Thursday evening at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro school board meeting.

The picture, taken during a school trip to the Gettysburg National Battlefield, shows two students holding Confederate flags with the caption “South will rise.” The photo was uploaded to the picture and video-sharing mobile app Instagram.

A comment on the photo reading “Already bought my first slave” also drew criticism from many students and parents at the school, including Ronald Creatore, the father of the girl who posted the photo.

Creatore spoke at the meeting Thursday while holding a textbook.

"The Confederate flag appears three times in a book being used in our school system," he said.

Other speakers suggested outrage over the incident was overblown, and that the students involved have been under attack. Frank McBride related the situation to a bonfire.

"This one is shedding much more heat than light," he said. "And far worse, the fuel we are throwing on this bonfire is our own children."

A spokesman for the school system confirmed that the flags in the photo are owned by East Chapel Hill High School and have been used in reenactments for several years.

Others who stepped in front of the crowded meeting room called for conversation.

"We you see, we have a very diverse crowd here tonight," said Robert Campbell, a minister. "But how often do we come together as a community to discuss the issues before us. Racism is still alive. How do we deal with it as residents of this great community?"

Creatore’s daughter posted an apology, saying the photo was not intended to offend:

"I'm sorry that my picture offended people and especially since my initial caption (that I changed once I realized people took it seriously), but I'm currently on the Civil War trip learning about the history of our country and this just so happens to be a pretty (expletive) important part of it. We were reenacting Pickett's charge in which the South lost 85% of their soldiers. These aren't the Confederate flags in fact, they're the North Carolina regimental flags. I'm proud to be a part of my state and I'm sorry my photo was so offensive but I find it appropriate in that I'm honoring heroes that fought to protect their home and families. Thanks though."

Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Superintendent Tom Forcella told WRAL Wednesday that the students are not likely to be punished because it does not fall under the system’s definition of cyberbullying.

He also said the school system needs to do a better job of giving students who go on the trip more context to "help them understand what the meaning of different symbols are." A school system spokesman said there are currently no planned changes for the class.

Creatore asked for some understanding for his daughter.

"I want the person who has a 17-year-old who has never had never make a mistake to be the one to judge her," he said.

76 Comments

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  • Faith Tripp Roberts May 9, 2015
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    View quoted thread


  • Faith Tripp Roberts May 9, 2015
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    View quoted thread


  • Faith Tripp Roberts May 9, 2015
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    Get a life people, this flag is part of history, and does not represent racism.

  • Faith Tripp Roberts May 9, 2015
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    Get a life people, this flag is part of history, and does not represent racism.

  • Daniel Corell May 8, 2015
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    I believe the African American community will not be satisfied until we destroy these young womens' lives and shame them on a national scale.

    It's a silly picture. I've seen worse by our African American community. Holding guns and drugs, etc. etc. Sporting Black Panther logo's. Give me a break people.

    "Let go of your hate." - Luke Skywalker

  • Brian Jones May 8, 2015
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    Why bash the Confederate States of America. They had slaves. The North also had slaves in the states of Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and other states, etc.........In the 1800s, many (if not most) countries in the world had some type of slavery (or at least a caste system). Countries in subsaharan and/or sahelian Africa still have slaves today........That was the way the world was 175 years ago.......Most of the world is different now..........People, don't get upset about something that was happening 200 years ago.

  • Jamal Jensen May 8, 2015
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    View quoted thread


    Excellent points. I'm afraid the end of the 'victim' mentality won't end soon. There's too much money to be made from it. It's also the road most traveled by people who find it too painful to share at least part of the blame for their lot in life. It's always someone's else fault.

  • Joseph Shepard May 8, 2015
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    If anybody needed a more definitive identification of just who the racists and haters are, just read some to the comments made both during the meeting, and made directly to the father of the girls involved--including one threat of physical violence against the white father by a Black man who was vowing to kick the fathers backside simply because he was at the board meeting. And people wonder when racism will ever end??? When some members of the African American community give up the "victim" mentality.

  • Jamal Jensen May 8, 2015
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    I’m surprised these girls aren’t already on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s hate list. Of course, I gest, but only half way.

    The left has adopted the ‘hate’ label as a way to frame political and cultural debate to their advantage. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is a left wing group that has claimed moral authority, albeit falsely, by becoming the De Facto arbiter of who is a hate group. They have done this with the complicity of the also left-leaning news media. Hatred seeks to marginalize, disenfranchise and ultimately destroy people. The act of being labeled a hate group does the same thing. So, in effect, the SPLC has become that which it supposedly abhors, a HATE GROUP.

    To be sure there are real hate groups listed on their site, like Neo-Nazis, the Klan, etc. But when you start calling mainstream groups like the Family Research Council a hate group just because they believe in traditional marriage and the SPLC does not, then our country has a BIG problem.

  • Barbara Hatcher May 8, 2015
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    Lastly, yes, I am proud to be American. I realize that there are many ethnic groups within my genetic makeup and I'm proud for the parts that I have from each. But "I" choose to celebrate the fact that I'm American. I have friends, born and raised here many generations over, who upon asking will immediately respond that they are German, Italian, Irish, African, French, English, Portuguese, ..... I'm happy for them and I would never presume to tell them they cannot celebrate their heritage. I don't personally relate to it on that level because as I said, I'm American. I have never been to Europe so that part of my DNA is not particularly relevant to me other than in certain physical features. Not to say studying the cultures isn't interesting (I was a linguist and cultural studies major). In fact, I'm very fascinated. But to me, I identify as being American. I am proud to be American!

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