Lessons for the Giggling Teens in T-Shirts Spelling the N-Word

The really good news is that you have an opportunity to confront the person you are and decide the person you want to be. The world is waiting to give you a second chance. Take it, but do me this one solid: Recognize that the people you were mocking are often not so lucky.
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Congratulations on succeeding in putting Phoenix, Arizona's Desert Vista High School on the map. Many seniors aspire to such a feat (though almost none would have agreed to your plan): configuring yourselves so that your t-shirts, emblazoned with an asterisk or gold letter, spelled the word "N-I-*-*-E-R." A photo of your assemblage went viral on Instagram (duh). Now the world is staring at your clueless smiles. You had no idea what was coming! All is not lost. Consider this a teachable moment.

1. Don't be so obtuse.

Spelling Ni**er was dumb and obvious. If you intend to sidestep the wrath that comes with offending others, it is important you be clever. If you are in need of instruction, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is currently giving a master class. You may also look to Maine Gov. Paul LePage. Had you been deft enough to invoke D-Money, you would have succeeded in conjuring negative stereotypes while rendering #BlackTwitter powerless to do anything other than glare at your shade. But you didn't go that route, and now #BlackTwitter intends to make you pay.

2. #BlackTwitter will drag you.

By blurring your faces and withholding your names, mainstream media did everything possible to protect you from yourselves. Unfortunately, traditional media no longer carry the day. #BlackTwitter wasted no time dragging your names and faces into the town square where a public shaming is now underway. How could you not have anticipated this? It's not like you're Nancy Lee Grahn, the aging soap opera actress who didn't know what was happening when #BlackTwitter came for her. Y'all know about #BlackTwitter. They won't stop until they have devoured every last one of your white tears.

3. This is going to hurt.

According to your school district's website, your punishment has yet to be dispensed as the "discipline process" remains ongoing. Already there is a petition, which as of Monday morning had over 36,000 signatures, demanding your expulsions and the principal's firing. If their demands are not met, there will likely be protests and complaints filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

4. "Good" white people will abandon you.

Before Friday's sun had set over Phoenix, ABC15 was reporting the "outrage," "unacceptable" nature, and "disappointment" expressed by your principal, Christine Barela and Tempe Union High School District Superintendent, Dr. Kenneth Baca. Even your white classmates have distanced themselves from you by posing in solidarity with the black students you offended. Understand; the "good" white people aren't tossing you to the wolves because they think you are "bad." Until Apple perfects the machine that can betray our thoughts and hearts, who's good, bad, racist, or otherwise will remain a mystery. But certain "acts" (read yours) are indefensible. In the future, leave wiggle room.

5. This will follow you.

To start with, how do you explain this incident to college admissions officers? You've essentially given them notice that you're at best foolish, possibly a pariah. Believe me; with the heat they are catching from the Black Lives Matter students, they are not looking for additional fireworks. You should also prepare yourselves to be offered up in court as Exhibit A in the lawsuit filed by Desert Vista High School English teacher, Dr. Cicely Cobb, who in 2014 alleged racial discrimination by students and inaction on the part of school administrators. But at least you have youth on your side. Last year, when a white man and his friends racially taunted a little black boy named Cayden, he and his friends were fired. You've got plenty of time to rehabilitate yourselves before you go on the job market.

6. There is good news!

You are white girls (as opposed to black girls, or God forbid, black boys). Even as I comprehend how mean and insensitive you've been to your classmates, I look at those bright smiles and rosy cheeks and see cuteness, and by extension, innocence. (That's how insidious and entrenched the Western culture's brainwashing is.) Your bad deeds will be filtered through your white-femaleness so that before you even offer them, excuses and explanations will have already been formulated in the minds of many. Many are anxious to forgive, protect, and embrace you.

7. There is REALLY good news!!!

You are white. (This simply can't be said enough.) Better still, area demographics suggest your parents are likely educated and affluent, so they can afford the lawyers, counselors, and public relations consultants you now need. Trust me; you'll be fine. The REALLY, really good news is that you have an opportunity few people your age encounter: to confront the person you are and decide the person you want to be. The world is waiting to give you a second chance. Take it, but do me this one solid: Recognize that the people you were mocking are often not so lucky.

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