Several Homewood-Flossmoor High School seniors said this week that they feel Taiylar Ball’s punishment was “excessive” and that her performance at the recent senior talent show was the complete opposite of offensive.
Ball was denied entry to prom after she used the N-word in a poem during the May 19 talent show. Her poem titled “Dear Black Girls” referenced stereotypes attributed to black women and the empowerment of black girls.
H-F senior Dionne Gamble said the performance was “powerful” and doesn’t see how anyone could be offended by the poem.
“I was sitting behind a row of Caucasian students and the reaction was the same as the black students,” Gamble said. “They applauded her too and she received a standing ovation that was well deserved because her piece was amazing.”
Ball, a senior, is a National Honor Society member and reached the high honor roll many times during her years at H-F. She also received a full-ride scholarship to Florida A&M University where she will continue her academic career.
Due to the high school administration’s reaction to the poem, Ball is still awaiting a decision regarding if she can walk across the stage at Sunday’s graduation.
H-F senior Anthony Davis says she worked hard and deserves to walk with her classmates at graduation. He stressed that denying her entry to prom and not allowing her to walk would be excessive.
“We understand consequences have to be given, but in an appropriate way,” he said. “I think if the origin of the poem and her intentions were understood more, then there would be a different reaction.”
Davis added there are a lot of people who support her but there are a lot of people who don’t. He explained since she was able to get on stage and recite a strong poem, it makes her brave.
“Anytime someone feels passionate to stand up for what they believe in, I support them,” Davis said. “I’m a firm believer of if you don’t stand up for something, you’ll fall for anything.”
Ball’s story spread throughout social media last weekend. It even sparked a comment from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on Twitter. Rowling tweeted, “This is shameful: a student punished for speaking her own words in a poem.”
But the support is not only on social media. Senior Caitlin Canada said there are many people in the community who stand in solidarity with Ball. She stressed if Ball is not allowed to walk the stage, then people will take action.
“I’m sure people will start protesting. It’s an unfortunate situation but it needs to be taken into consideration for her to walk the stage. I honestly think she deserves it more than any of us,” Canada said.