BLACK VOICES

High School Students Protest Racist Language By Staging A Walkout

Maryland students were fed up with discrimination at their school after a video of a white teen calling black people "inferior" surfaced.

Students at a high school in Howard County, Maryland, were tired of administrators ignoring their concerns about racist language being used in their school. So they decided to organize a protest and lifted their voices. 

On Tuesday, students at Mount Hebron High School, which had a 49.8 percent white population last year, walked out before their fourth period classes to rally in front of the building. Students have faced racist behavior in the past, according to the Washington Post, but the tipping point was when a video of a white student describing black people as "inferior" surfaced online. The teen in the video also belittled the Black Lives Matter movement and said “who the f**k cares about some black man who dies?”

During the rally, students shared speeches and testimonies about their experiences and changes they want to see in the school. Using the hashtag #HoCoStudentWalkout, the students mobilized and invited community members and activists, including DeRay McKesson and Kwame Rose, to stand in solidarity with them.

Even Bree Newsome, who's a graduate of the Howard County school district, tweeted her support. 

McKesson recorded portions of the protest on Periscope and in one video, a young black girl recalled times when white students ridiculed her for her hair and her skin color. 

"Those who feel like they haven't seen or experienced racism in our school lack to realize that... even though they don't see it does not mean it hasn't happened," she said in a speech to her classmates. "I may come off as a confident person but words do hurt and as much as I try to shake things off, they leave a lasting impression."

In response to the video that sparked the outrage, principal Andrew Cockley wrote in a letter to parents that he plans to meet with the student. Howard County Schools Superintendent Renee Foose also wrote a letter to parents, stating the video offends "many people of all races, and reflect[s] poorly on students directly involved and those who chose to stand silent. This behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The student has since apologized on social media, according to Washington Post, but has yet to be disciplined. 

The student demonstrators aren't just hoping to correct one injustice, but change the entire conversation around race, gender and more at their school.

"[This demonstration] is a cry that states that we unequivocally believe we are truly capable of making change happen," one male student said to the crowd. "The reason why we are out here in the cold and not inside is because we know that this message is one that so many others, not only in Howard County, but so many others all around this country need to address." 

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