After two minors from Gainesville High School in Gainesville, Fla., posted a nearly 14-minute-long racist rant on YouTube, the girls are “no longer students at the school,” WCJB-TV reports.
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Last week, eight police officers were brought to the campus in light of death threats the girls were receiving in response to their videos. The videos included comments like, “You can understand what we are saying, our accents, we use actual words. Black people do not.”
Gainesville High School principal David Shelnutt did not go into detail on the extent of the disciplinary action taken against the girls, but did tell WCJB that their comments were not welcome at the school.
“There’s no place for comments like that, that video here at GHS,” Shelnutt told the station. “There’s no place for that in the Alachua County Public School System, and my opinion, no place for that in society in general.”
Since the video went viral last week, the girls have experienced harassment and said they feared for their safety. According to one report by the Gainesville Sun, one of the students involved was hiding out at a relative’s house while her mother was at work.
“Our lives have changed totally, 180 degrees,” her mother told the paper. “This has made her an adult really quick.”
The girls and one of their parents issued a formal apology in the paper Monday:
“I am one of the girls who were in the racist video that got posted. I’m writing this so that I can tell people how truly sorry I am. I could never, in a million years, have pictured this happening with me involved. I wasn’t raised to hate people for their race, and I still don’t. I made a horrible decision in being a part of this video … “
The girl also writes that she won’t make excuses, but hopes the community will eventually forgive her.
In another apology, the second girl’s mother says her daughter has gone into a depression following the backlash of the video, and hopes that the community will forgive her and end the harassment:
“While we can never take back the words and actions that these two children have said, we have to start to heal and forgive IMMEDIATELY. Stop the violent threats to our homes and our children, stop the anger, because this will solve absolutely nothing, and most importantly, look at yourself for change and love.”
According to the Gainesville Sun, the high school will wear orange, the color of racial tolerance, this week as a sign of solidarity.
The response to the girls’ videos echos sentiments of racial issues in school communities across the country.
Just last summer, 18-year-old Kymberly Wimberly of Arkansas filed suit against McGehee Secondary School after four years of nearly straight-As, honors and Advanced Placement classes had placed her at the top of her graduating class. The suit alleges that though she earned the marks, the school denied her valedictorian status because she is black.
A separate suit filed against a Minnesota school district last August claimed that a Red Wing High School homecoming event called “Wigger Day” caused a black student “severe emotional distress including depression, loss of sleep, stress, crying, humiliation, anxiety, and shame.”
“Wigger is a pejorative slang term for a white person who emulates the mannerisms, language and fashions associated with African-American culture,” the complaint explains. Students were encouraged to dress in oversized sports jerseys, low-slung pants, baseball hats cocked to the side and ‘doo rags.
Most recently in Norcross, Ga., a Beaver Ridge Elementary School teacher resigned after outcry over a third grade math assignment that used slavery examples in word problems. Parents were outraged at both the assignment and the school district’s response to the reports of those math problems, which included references to cotton, orange picking and beatings.
One problem read: “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in 1 week?”
On the other end of the spectrum, this sensitivity — or sometimes, lack thereof — seems to create a bit of an identity crisis among schoolchildren. Some black students say they feel ostracized for acting “too white.” One Connecticut middle school student said he was stabbed in the back with a pencil by a peer who thought he wasn’t acting “black enough.”