While some in the state’s GOP seem befuddled by whether systemic racism exists, social justice advocates say Texas public schools have become breeding grounds for racist bullying.
On Monday, Aledo ISD Superintendent Susan Bohn emailed district parents to let them know a “racial harassment and cyberbullying” incident had unfolded, according to WFAA. A group of students from Daniel Ninth Grade Campus had started a Snapchat group where they pretended to “auction off” their Black peers.
According to a screenshot of the interaction, the group had been dubbed “Slave Trade,” and emojis of a Black man, a gun and a white police officer were included in the name. The title was then changed to “N***** Farm,” and from there, to “N***** Auction.”
Group members “bid” $100 on one Black student and $1 on another. Someone remarked they would have paid more for the latter student if “his hair wasn’t so bad.”
An Aledo ISD spokeswoman said the district disciplined the students for racial harassment and cyberbullying. She also said district officials are "deeply saddened" that the incident inflicted "tremendous pain" for the victims and their families, as well as other students of color.
Eddie Burnett, president of the Parker County NAACP, told WFAA he’s tired of officials brushing off racism as insensitive jokes.
“‘It’s just kids. They’re just playing. They don’t know any better.’ Well damn, teach them better,” he said.
Aledo is a small town in Parker County located around 20 miles west of Fort Worth, and Black people make up 0.36% of its population, according to the census website World Population Review. Countywide, the number isn’t much higher: The U.S. Census Bureau reports Black people make up 1.7% of Parker County’s population.
News of Aledo’s racist incident sent shockwaves throughout the region, with many North Texans calling for the bullies’ expulsion.
In a text message Tuesday, civil rights attorney Lee Merritt told the Observer he planned to meet with some of the Black students’ parents after they asked for a consultation with his office. He also took to Twitter to condemn racism.
“White students from @AledoISD hosted a slave auction on Snapchat where they sold black classmates for between $1-$100,” Merritt said. “The racism pouring into our politics, our public safety, our national security is being incubated in our schools.”
White students from @AledoISD hosted a slave auction on Snapchat where they sold black classmates for between $1-$100.— S. Lee Merritt, Esq. (@MeritLaw) April 13, 2021
The racism pouring into our politics, our public safety, our national security is being incubated in our schools. pic.twitter.com/jkdKXZfHz2
Aledo isn’t the only North Texas school district making headlines over racist bullying.
Last month, a video emerged showing eight-grade Plano ISD student SeMarion Humphrey being made to drink what appears to be urine during a sleepover with white classmates. The bullies also allegedly called Humphrey racial slurs and shot him with BB guns, according to CNN.
Some are even accusing North Texas teachers of prejudice, too. Earlier this month, Today reported that three Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD educators were placed on administrative leave after a racist question appeared on a middle school quiz.
“Which one of these Chinese NORMS is TRUE?” The question read. Students had to choose one of three options:
A. It is normal in China to cut off someone’s lips if they burp in a restaurant.
B. It is normal in parts of China to give children fifty lashes by a cane if they steal a piece of candy.
C. It is normal in parts of China to eat cats and dogs.
my sister’s 6th grade social studies class took a quiz today and......... this is ridiculous.. harmful rhetoric in our education system is exactly why anti-asian hate crimes and racism persist today @CFBISD @BlalackMS do better pic.twitter.com/MCIjc0WI3z— joy (@joyjuheelim) March 30, 2021
Tensions are already simmering nationwide amid the ongoing trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who killed George Floyd last May. On Sunday, another Minnesota Black man, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, was fatally shot by police after he was pulled over for a minor traffic infraction.
Six days after Frisco’s Marvin Scott III died while in police custody, Merritt said in a video posted to Twitter that he plans to run for the state’s Attorney General Office.
“I said if [Attorney General Ken Paxton] didn’t do his job, I would take his job,” Merritt said in the March 20 video. “It’s clear he doesn’t want to do his job, so I decided to go ahead and take it.”
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