Za'Khari Waddy is a young scholar and a leader on his football team. But neither of these accolades could shield him from the racism he faces at school.
On an October bus ride after one of his team's football games, a white student made some racist remarks to Waddy, according to a letter the 13-year-old later wrote to his school. This wasn't the first time Waddy heard comments like this. His mother, Zettrona Powell, said both her and her son have reported these incidents to his school in Yorktown, Virginia to no avail, according to the New York Daily News. Waddy was fed up so his mom encouraged him to write a letter to the school.
To Whom It May Concern:
Yesterday on the football bus coming from our football game a kid ... started saying racist things to me. He then started saying he does not like blacks and he told me 200 years ago my ancestors hung from a tree and after he said that I should I hang from a tree. That made me super mad, so in the locker room I told him not to call me n----r or that I should be hung on a tree. The coaches took me away from the kid because I was really mad and they think I was going to fight him but I want someone to do something about it because I’m tired of boys messing with me because of my skin. I’m at my boiling point with this. Please do something about this because when I bring it to the office/principle you do nothing about it and I’m tired of the racism.
Powell told the Daily News that she met with the principal and has written and called the school and the school board. She requested that the child who allegedly made the remarks be reprimanded and for faculty to facilitate a meeting with other children who she says have harassed Waddy.
“Ever since we’ve moved to this area my son has been faced with racism," Waddy's mom Zettrona Powell said in a letter to the school, according to Daily News. Since Waddy was in fifth grade, his mom kept a record of discriminatory acts her son has faced. "He’s been asked if he was going to rape or rob a young lady, he’s been pushed into lockers and called a n*****r on numerous occasions.”
School administrators told her they would look into it, but according to Daily News' initial report, no substantive action had been taken to satisfy Powell and Waddy as of November 12. Powell posted her frustrations and her son's letter on Facebook.
Katherine Goff, a representative for York County School Division, told The Huffington Post the school handled the matter immediately when this particular incident occurred October. Even though she couldn't go into the details of the disciplinary actions taken, Goff said the investigation is ongoing and the school is "working to resolve the matter," using this as an "opportunity to ... grow and improve."
On November 12, York County School Division released a statement via Facebook.
"We recognize that racism, bullying and other issues impact our entire school community," the statement read. "Our division leadership team will continue to work closely with school administrators to address the concerns of our students and families."
Powell told Williamsburg Yorktown Daily that since Waddy's letter received widespread attention, students have continued to taunt him. But she said she's grateful for the testimonies of former Tabb students who say they've faced similar incidents. People have suggested Waddy should transfer schools, but Powell refuses to consider that as an option.
“My son deserves the same education everyone else does at the school,” Powell told Williamsburg Yorktown Daily, “I’m not leaving, and they’re going to fix this.”
Also on HuffPost: