Editors note: This article contains content that includes racial violence and violence against women. Please advise.
by Aziah Siid
How many times will the youth of the Black community be punished for the wrongdoings done against them? As Black students are forced to alter their appearance to appeal to the white gaze and are funneled into the school-to-prison pipeline, it makes folks wonder, when will the youth of this community catch a break?
In the latest mind-blowing incident, a Black female student was left hospitalized with a broken nose last week after confronting a white student for repeatedly using racial slurs.
The Kansas City Defender posted a video of the incident, which has now gone viral, showing a Black female student at Shawnee Mission East High School in Kansas, Missouri, confronting a white classmate for calling Black people “slaves.” This led another white student to get involved, who shouted, “Shut the f*ck up,” before hurling the N-word at the Black female student. The interaction ultimately ended in a physical altercation after the white male student charged toward the Black girl and pushed her.
Both the Black female student and the white male student were suspended, sparking outrage not only among students and Shawnee community members but across social media.
Shawnee Mission East has not directly addressed the hate crime, or explicitly denounced it. The following is an excerpt from an email sent out to parents:
“As a school and a community, we know that in order for students to learn, they must first feel safe and supported. Shawnee Mission East teachers, administrators, and staff will continue to do our absolute best to help every student who enters our school feel safe and supported so they can be at their very best…the words we use matter. Racially charged language, insults, and slurs will not be tolerated in our school…”
This incident at Shawnee Mission East is not an isolated one. Students report a history of racism at the school that’s often overlooked, swept under the rug, and downplayed by the administration, including recalling Principal Jason Peres making racist remarks about Black students appearing intimidating or “looking like you are going to jump somebody” when they are in groups, according to The Defender.
Shawnee Mission East has around 1,700 students, 83% of whom are white and less than 2% are Black, according to the Kansas State Department of Education. In the Shawnee Mission district, 61% of kids are white, 20.5% are Hispanic, and 9% are Black.
A week after the incident, the controversy had still not died down, as students marched outside of Shawnee Mission East High School on Wednesday, November 29, according to the Kansas City Star. The students chanted, “We want change,” “Have our backs,” and “How many more times?” They also held signs reading, “We demand action! Protect students of color,” “We don’t feel safe,” and “Take action now.”