Arkansas mom Deval Brockman saw no problem with her 6-year-old daughter Journei's T-shirt before she dropped her daughter off at day care on June 25 before heading to work as a phlebotomist at a plasma center.
The slogan tee reads "All Lives Can't Matter until Black Lives Matter." The statement is true and as a Black mom raising a Black daughter during a moment of historical importance, Brockman felt the shirt was appropriate for her daughter.
But when the director of Journei's day care, His Kids Learning Center in Russellville, called to request a new shirt for her daughter Brockman was confused. She tells TODAY Parents: "The director was like, 'I don't support it. I don't like it. I want to make sure you do not send her to school in the shirt again.'"
Brockman inquired with state officials about whether her daughter could wear the shirt to day care and was told she could, as there was no profanity on the shirt. Her day care disagreed, and when Journei came to school the next day wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the Black Lives Matter fist she was asked not to return to school.
According to Fox16 in Little Rock. the day care released a statement that reads: "Due to the threat of allegations and under the advisement of the council, His Kids Learning Center will only be releasing this written statement concerning The Brockman's [sic]: We feel a childcare environment is not a place for a parent's political views to be addressed or played out, regardless of race."
Journei was sad that she could not go back to the day care she has been attending for six months, says Brockman. "All of a sudden her environment changed. She can't see the teacher she liked. She can't see her friends."
Journei's story is gaining support online, with people pointing out that both the statement Black Lives Matter and the organization Black Lives Matter is not political, but simply true.
Olivette Otele is a Professor in History of Slavery at the University of Bristol and recently told Elle why "All Lives Matter" ignores the systemic racism that has lead to this historic moment (which was the point of Journei's shirt). "It would be fantastic if all lives mattered but all lives are not valued equally," she told Elle. "You don't have to know about Black history but instinctively you have to understand that when people are saying 'Black Lives Matter' it's because its Black lives that have been disproportionately suffering."
For Brockman and her daughter, this is the point. Kids like her daughter, in modern-day America are still suffering.
"Kids need to know that their skin color already is going to work against them to a certain degree in people's eyes. So, they need to know and be prepared and be able to learn and know that they may not have done anything but they're going to be treated very differently," she said. "Hopefully, someday it will change."