Texas students reprimanded after racist Snapchat messages uncovered
A predominantly white High School in Texas doled out “disciplinary consequences” after a group of white ninth graders assigned dollar values to students of color in private Snapchat messages, referring to the messaging group as a “slave trade.” If that weren’t horrendous enough, the school did not seem to grasp the extent of the action, labeling the heinous act of racism as an instance of “cyberbullying.”
The incident occurred at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus of the Aledo Independent School District, in Aledo, Texas and in screengrabs of the messages (obtained by The New York Times), students would assign a price tag to their classmates of color, writing messages like how one student was worth “100 bucks” and other students “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
The name of the group was “Slave Trade” with an emoji of a cop pointing a gun at a Black farmer. At times the students would change the name of the group to use a racist slur.
After doling out “disciplinary consequences” to the offending students (it’s unclear exactly how they were punished, though law enforcement was reportedly involved), Principal Carolyn Ansley sent a note to parents at the school calling it “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment,” and described the messages as “racially charged language.”
Not surprisingly, this did not sit well with many who believe that “racially charged language” hardly describes the horrifying thing the students did. “[Call] it what it is, racism and hate,” one parent at the school wrote on Facebook (as excerpted by The Times).
“Part of the issue is parents were really upset that the original memo that came out said nothing about racism,” Jo Jessup, parent of a 9th grader in the district, told a local ABC affiliate. “Calling it cyberbullying rather than calling it racism … that is the piece that really gets under my skin,” Mark Grubbs, a father of three former district students, told NBC. Grubbs said he pulled his kids from the district because active racism against students of color has long been a problem within the district. The district’s superintendent then sent out a new statement, writing that “there is no room for racism or hatred” in the school district in an attempt to correct the previous oversight by the school’s principal.
Civil rights lawyer S. Lee Merritt shared a screengrab of the Snapchats (which included the use of the N-word) and wrote, “The racism pouring into our politics, our public safety, our national security is being incubated in our schools.” Many chimed in to his Twitter thread, wondering why the students weren’t expelled. Others expressed doubts, saying that incidences like this are always excused, with little to no repercussions, which is why they continue.
The New York Times reports that after looking at the school’s demographics, it shows that “390 of the 499 ninth graders at the school during the 2019-20 academic year were white; six were Black.” Eddie Burnett, president of the N.A.A.C.P. branch in the school’s county says the racist messages were “not completely surprising,” but that he was “upset that we’re still dealing with this kind of thing in 2021.”
“In order to do what these kids did, you had to have already dehumanized your targets,” Burnett said. “That made it comfortable for you to treat them that way.”
NBC News says parents are planning to show up next week to demand the district create a stronger plan to address the rampant racism in the district.