A pair of high school students from Concord, N.C., say they were unfairly punished for drawing attention to an incident of racism.
On Wednesday, in response to the Parkland school shooting on Feb. 14, students across the country staged a walkout from their classes as part of a nationwide debate over guns in schools.
However, last month just the mere discussion of joining in the protests resulted in four students at Concord’s Central Cabarrus High School getting suspended.
Snapchat debate devolves
What was supposed to be a healthy online debate turned into a racially charged dispute after one angry student said the n-word in a Snapchat video while criticizing gun reform, according to BuzzFeed News.
Two other students — both Black — were handed a two-day in-school suspension after republishing the clip on social media. They later told BuzzFeed they didn’t think it was fair they were punished for drawing attention to racism among classmates.
“I was a victim in the situation and you all got mad at me for putting it out there,” said Carmani Harris-Jackson, a 15-year-old sophomore. “Someone posted on Snapchat how the walkout would be stupid, how without guns we wouldn’t have any of the stuff we have today, and that we were wasting our time walking out.”
Harris-Jackson says she and a few white students who identified as conservative were going back and forth debating gun reform via their Snapchat Stories on Feb. 21.
During the discussion a white female student then recorded her friend, who is also a white CCHS student, responding: “They’re putting laws on who can purchase a gun. No, n****r…”
Friends no more
“Me and [the girl who said it] were friends before this happened. We had a class together. We would talk together. But as soon as I have a difference in views, you call me a very harmful and offensive racial slur? She said it in a joking manner, but there are boundaries of things you joke about and that’s not one of the things you joke about it,” said Harris-Jackson.
When she and her best friend Trinity Smith, 16, reposted the video it got over 10,000 views and 200 retweets on Smith’s Twitter alone. Both claim they’d often witnessed racism at CCHS — such as “KKK” scratched into the bathroom walls and white students casually saying the n-word — and felt it was time to finally do something about it.
In a move that Smith’s mother, Sharon Shingler, said she found “very baffling” all four students were suspended, the two white girls who posted the video and the two black girls who reposted it.
Buzzfeed reported that the morning after the video with the slur in it has appeared online, Smith and Harris-Jackson were asked by school administrators to remove it from their accounts. After some reluctance, they finally did. However, Smith said she only agreed after she was told that she would not face any disciplinary action.
Despite that, both girls were told the next day they had two days of in-school suspension, accused of creating a “disruptive environment.
Pointing out the irony
“I know for a fact if I hadn’t posted it and cause a ‘disruption,’ you would haven’t cared as much, you all would have swept it under the rug,” said Harris-Jackson.
“I can understand if I actually did something bad,” said Smith. “But the fact is, I didn’t threaten this girl, I didn’t say anything derogatory, I didn’t start a fight with her. The only thing I did was post a video and said I was disgusted with what she said. Because it is disgusting.”
“Cabarrus County Schools seeks to provide a safe, inviting and motivating learning environment for all of our students. Racial prejudice and insensitivity have no place in our classrooms or on our campuses,” Ronnye Boone, the communications director for Cabarrus County Schools, said in a statement.
“We investigate all claims and use the provisions outlined in Board Policy to determine disciplinary action.”