Editor Gabriel Solomon
Blaine Jones, a criminal defense attorney in Pittsburgh, Penn.,says that his 15-year-old son received a three-day suspension from South Fayette High School in McDonald, PA for striking a boy who is known to harass students of color. The father wants school administrators to resolve “systemic racism” that pervades the school. “I have dozens of testimonies from students who have been targets of racism,” he says. “Bullies are allowed to thrive, unchecked and African-American students are suffering in silence.
On Wednesday, Jones’ son joined his friends at a lunch table where a male student had already sat down. “The kid looked up at him and said, ‘N*****,’” . “My son said, ‘What did you say to me?’ and the kid repeated the word, saying, ‘What are you going to do about it?’”“My son put him in a chokehold,” and the fight stopped when teachers separated them.
Jones showed text messages, allegedly from the boy to his son’s friend, in which he called black people “Monkey.” He says the boy also teased an Asian student for the shape of her eyes. “Considering that my son was called the N-word last year by another student — for which no action was taken by the school — and this kid’s history of harassment, I expected due process for my child,”. “But they just reiterated language from the handbook about behavior codes.” Jones, asked whether the school would provide diversity training to the staff and students. “The room was embarrassingly silent,”.
On Thursday night, Jones learned that both boys were suspended for three days. “My son should be disciplined for putting his hands on the student, but the school isn’t looking at the totality of this.” His son, a star student and volleyball player, is expected back in class on Monday. A representative of South Fayette Township School District tells Yahoo Lifestyle “The safety and well-being of all our students is our number-one priority, and we take all incidents that violate our policies seriously. Upon becoming aware of yesterday’s incident, our administration immediately investigated. Based on the findings, both students have been disciplined and are facing the consequences of their actions according to our policies. We cannot discuss the details of the incident or related punishment.”
This harassment of children and the policies around the country that school districts take regarding children of color is nothing new. While doing this story for Solomon Magazine, I found several incidents of systemic racism that speaks of tolerance and acceptance of racism within school districts.
The photo of the unidentified Hillcrest High School teen in Simpsonville, South Carolina, holding a riffle and sign that reads ” We hang N***ers for free” was re-posted on Facebook. “That student is old enough to know better,” a former Greenville County resident, 21, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Being of mixed race myself, this makes me mad as hell.”“ What is more stunning than the incident itself is the fact that Police won’t press charges against a teen who held a gun and a sign that said ‘We hang n****** for free’ in a Snapchat photo, but the school is considering expulsion.
Rev. J.M. Flemming, the president of the Greenville Branch of the NAACP recommended that Greenville County Schools expel the student. We are saddened to hear of a racial attack on blacks by a white student in Greenville County Schools,” Flemming told Fox Carolina. “This shows the issue of racism is very real since this youth was not born during times of civil rights era then racial hatred is embedded.”
“The Greenville NAACP, is working to address the rising spread of racial and religious hatred in this country and especially in Greenville County,” he said. “This racial incident brought to light on April 30th is one of many racial incidents not reported in the media. Greenville County must be open to tell the truth about racism and continue dialogues on racism and its side effects. The Greenville NAACP is very supportive of Public Education but this racial attack is at the Expulsion level of the School District’s Zero Tolerance Policy. We are waiting to see the District’s response and stand ready to be a part of any conversation.”
A representative of the Simpsonville Police Department tells Yahoo Lifestyle that criminal charges aren’t suitable. “During the course of the investigation, the Simpsonville Police concluded there were no credible threats to any students or staff at Hillcrest High School,” says the spokesperson. “That determination was not based on the inappropriateness of the photo, and the determination is in no way an indication the Simpsonville Police are excusing the photo. Rather, the determination was based on evidence compiled in the investigation, including understanding the intent of the student; the role of Simpsonville Police is determine if a criminal act has been committed. “The criteria for criminal charges are different from the criteria for determining that a photo is inappropriate,” the spokespoerson said. “Once the Simpsonville Police concluded there were no credible threats, the photo fell under the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, and although the photo and content of the photo are inexcusable, the First Amendment protects free speech, even speech that people find abhorrent.
”Students at Cleveland High School in Portland, Or. decorated a chocolate dessert in blackface and named it “Alfonso and sold it at a bake sale.
Ayesha Freeman, the principal of Cleveland High School in Portland, Or., emailed parents on Thursday to relay “incident… that was hurtful to our staff and students of color.” Cleveland student Brody Kreiter tweeted, “A bunch of white girls at my school made a blackface chocolate and we’re all pissed about it…” he also said a noose was found hanging in a school entrance way.
so the culinary teacher from my school got a face mold and filled it with dark chocolate. yesterday morning he gave it to the group of girls and told them to do whatever they wanted with it. they decorated it and called it “alfonso” because “it’s a black name.”
— brody k (@brodyurbro) April 26, 2019
earlier this week, a noose was founding hanging in the front hallway. admin emailed some of the clubs saying that “it could have been interpreted as a symbol so racial hatred” which is extremely likely. our school has a history of swastikas being drawn on posters in the hallway
Kreiter said the teacher sold the item at the unusually high price of $10 and forced members of the black student union to purchase the cake in order to make it disappear.
the culinary teacher decided to put it up for sale, jacking the price up to $10 which is much higher than anything else culinary sells. i.e. if they make pizza, they’ll charge $1 per slice. the teacher refused to take it out when it was finally recognized as an issue.
— brody k (@brodyurbro) April 26, 2019
at this point, it was the afternoon and the thing had been sitting out all day for students to see. finally, someone from the black student union came to remove it, but the teacher insisted that they had to buy it. eventually, they paid the $10 and disposed of the cake.
— brody k (@brodyurbro) April 26, 2019
He said the school apologized for the cake over the intercom. “This usually just means suspending students and dealing with it as fast as possible,” Kreiter tweeted. “This never means trying to tackle the emotional trauma that students have been enduring.” When reached by Yahoo Lifestyle, school spokesperson Harry Esteve said, “We are still gathering facts to determine exactly what happened. We want and expect our schools to be places where all students feel safe, welcome, included and respected by staff and classmates. Any act of racism, racial insensitivity or discrimination of any sort is completely unacceptable at our schools. Our primary focus in the days ahead is on giving our students any and all supports they need as they begin to heal from this incident.”
Olecia James, a black high school graduate is suing a recently desegregated Mississippi school district, alleging that she was denied her rightful place as class salutatorian — second to valedictorian — when the honor was given to a white student with a lower grade point average instead.
In 2017, Olecia James transferred to Cleveland Central High, a new school that opened after a federal judge decided that Mississippi’s Cleveland School District was illegally segregating black students and white students in two different schools. The inclusive Cleveland Central combined students from both schools and both sides of town, according to the Washington Post. By May 2018, James, a senior, was delivered some distressing news: Her weighted grade point average would be lowered by Cleveland Central, as she had lost “quality points” earned in advanced placement courses she had taken at East Side High School — her former, historically black high school. So James complained, citing unfair practices and claiming that students from the historically white high school did not have their “quality points” withdrawn. Eventually, her 4.41 grade point average was restored — but when it came time for a salutatorian to be named, the distinction went to a white student with a 4.34 average anyway. James was told her weighted average did not count when it came to salutatorian status.
James, who is now 18, has gone on to complete her first year at Mississippi’s Alcorn State University, where she’s studying mass communication. James says she lost out on an opportunity to attend the University of Mississippi, where she was accepted but denied a scholarship for salutatorians. She says she’s not the only student who transferred from the former East Side High to suffer losses after the grading policy was changed at Cleveland Central.
James hired attorney Lisa M. Ross to represent her in a federal lawsuit, filed in Mississippi’s Northern District saying she has suffered “loss of scholarships” and humiliation as the direct result of discriminatory snub. James suit which was filed just weeks before the trial date for the discrimination case of Jasmine Shepard, who is also a client of Ross. Shepard is a black student who sued the Mississippi Cleveland School District after she was named “co-valedictorian” at her high school along with a white student who had a lower grade point average.
The Mississippi Cleveland School District is defending itself against both suits after settling a third lawsuit in 2017. The settlement, which was 52 years in the making, resulted in the long-awaited desegregation of Mississippi high schools.