Accounts of harassment and intimidation tied to race, ethnicity or sexual orientation in Wilkes County public schools are told in a new site called “Stop Wilkes Hate” on the social media platform, Instagram.
One of the people responsible for “Stop Wilkes Hate” said it was started this month by current students and recent graduates of Wilkes County high schools to raise awareness of these occurrences in Wilkes schools “because we all know it happens. It just isn’t talked about enough.”
Other objectives are preventing such incidents from “becoming normalized or swept under the rug” and serving as “a vessel for voices of people who aren’t typically heard from or listened to,” said the spokesman.
An introduction with the site says, “Enough is Enough. Our goal is to shine light on the darkness our loved ones have experienced by our neighbors….”
In one “Stop Wilkes Hate” post, a Hispanic person described what happened when she was a homecoming attendant and walked out on the field with her father, a native of Mexico, homecoming night. “When they called my name, I saw the student section raise their Trump flags and I heard many racist comments being made” by students and others in the bleachers.
“I left crying and my dad said he felt embarrassed. The high school posted their student section with the Trump flag on their Instagram. When my mom found out, she contacted the principal multiple times and the principal claimed ‘it would be taken care of.’ ” It took days for the post to be removed, no students were punished and no one apologized, she wrote. When she was an attendant the next year, her father wouldn’t escort her on the field.
Some other posts on the site include:
• “When I was in the eighth grade, a student had been calling me various racist names… after I had repeatedly asked him to stop. When he wouldn’t, I punched him. I had had enough of his harassment. The teacher in the room had said nothing about his bullying. However, I received ISS (in-school suspension) the next day for hitting him. He received no punishment.”
• “In Spanish class my junior year, there were two guys that would yell multiple times a day at me to “sit down (n-word) and just yell (n-word) at me. No one ever said a word; they laughed.”
• “Twice during my four years in the Wilkes County school system, I was outed and subsequently bullied and picked on for being LBTQ.” This person said nothing was done when staff was told about the first incident. The second time, the student was told nothing could be done unless staff saw it happen.
• “Once, a group of boys on a field trip bus called me a “dirty” (n-word). When I told a teacher about this, she asked me what I did for them to call me that. I told her nothing and she said I was lying and to stay away from them.”
Other accounts were put on “Stop Wilkes Hate” as “stories,” so they remained for only 24 hours. These included:
• “Whenever we would play a Wilkes County school my mom would warn me. She was called (n-word) by a girl who went to North Wilkes High during a game. So, Wilkes County has been out of hand for decades.”
• “For as long as I remember, white kids in the WCS (Wilkes County Schools) have used the ‘n-word’ and think they’re so funny.”
• “At West Wilkes, a student named… was allowed to wear a rebel flag hoodie. However, another West Wilkes student was not allowed to wear or show a Mexican flag on school property for Hispanic Heritage Month.”
• “I went to every single middle school dance…. If I ever slow danced with a same-sex friend, they stopped us immediately when there were same-sex couples making out everywhere.”
• “Getting told to jump the border and go back to where I belong.”
• “Took English honors freshman year and was asked why I took honors and if I could understand due to me being ‘Mexican,’ which I’m not. Racist comments were made all the time. I told the teacher and she said, ‘Ignore them. They don’t mean it.’ ”
• “In middle school, someone told me they were going to deport my parents as a joke.”
• “On a school-sponsored trip, I was told (by teachers) to not be too close to friends because people would think we were gay. I expressed that I was uncomfortable with this. Being gay is not something to hide and it was offensive to suggest otherwise. I was literally never treated the same since….”
• “Had a teacher ask me why I wore my hair natural to school because Black girls usually wear weaves. Also, being told in middle school ‘you can’t like him because you’re Black and the races shouldn’t mix.’ ”
Under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, school districts must prevent or address any peer-to-peer racial harassment that denies or limits a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from school.