In junior high my son endured several incidents that a child should never have to experience. On one occasion, as my vehicle was surrounded by up to 100 junior high kids, I sat there helpless as I heard my children called every racial slur you can imagine (some which did not even relate to my children’s ethnicity). My daughter and I sat in the car as my son continued to tell the two aggressors, who were half his size, he would not fight them. I finally got out of my vehicle to try and break it up and get my son in the vehicle and was pummeled by snowballs from several high school students who were across the street in a church parking lot. These students had come to the junior high from the high school to watch this fight take place. At this point, I too was called horrible and degrading names. I phoned into the school for assistance. A female secretary came out just as one of the kids called my son “*explicit phrase removed* monkey”. Her response to this was, “Hey now, we don’t talk like that.” I noticed a gentleman standing against the school, maybe 50-60 yards away, and asked my daughter who the man was. She informed me it was the principal. He did nothing! This same behavior continued every day for a week, with even the police being involved. I called into the school the day following this incident and spoke with the principal. I asked if there was a policy regarding racism. I was repeatedly told, “Oh yes, we do not tolerate it!” I went to Nebo School District and asked the same question and received the same remark. They could never provide this “policy” in writing. Is it time a policy ensuring dignity for each student be written, shared, and enforced in our schools?
The following year my oldest daughter was being taunted constantly by another girl. I started receiving text messages from my daughter informing me this girl continued to follow her to all her classes. In front of a teacher this girl shoved my daughter up against a wall and called her “*explicit phrase removed”. The teacher simply told them both to sit down. My daughter tried to tell the teacher the girl didn’t even belong in the class and was told to “just ignore her”. This went on throughout the day. When I spoke with the principal, he assured me he would get to the bottom of it and informed me there were video cameras and they would keep an eye on things. The taunting continued to take place even outside of school with the girl driving past our home and screaming racial slurs. As I pursued this, I was assured this girl would be removed from school indefinitely. In the end, she was never even suspended for as much as a day. Because the taunting continued, my daughter eventually left school and finished up at the alternative school. Is it time for students to be accountable for their actions when they degrade others?
I did not raise my children to be victims and cry out “racism” when they felt as though they were wronged. Instead, they were empowered to stand tall and be proud of their ethnicity. I am thankful there were many more positive experiences and people in my children’s lives which lifted them up and encouraged them to be and do better and to stand proud of who they are. I am thankful my children did not allow these degrading and destructive behaviors to determine their lives.
I share these particular incidents to bring awareness to the fact there is a problem with racial tension and racism in our schools. I believe it is normal for us to be afraid or be ignorant when faced with something we are unfamiliar with. As parents, as educators, as a community, as a state, and as a people, we need to be more aware of what is going on around us. Turning a blind eye to such behavior only encourages such behavior to continue. We, the many who understand the precious nature of each soul on this earth, should do all we can to protect anyone from the negative behavior exhibited by the few who do not value the right of each individual’s human dignity. Is it time to wake up, acknowledge there is a problem, and take action to solve it?