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White Teens from Georgia Make Racist TikTok Video, Expelled

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Editorial Note: From time to time members of our editorial team find it necessary to respond to sensitive community issues.  This reporting is a reflection of a racial incident that occurred this week in Carrollton, Georgia.  Most opinion pieces are found in the Opinion section.

Being completely honest with you, it’s not unfathomable to believe that as a Black man in America, the last thing I want to deal with just happens to be the one thing that never goes away. Pandemic and global emergencies aside—racism is here to stay.  She waves her nasty finger in my face at least once a week. Blatant, fragrant. Racism.

For nearly a day, I ignored tags and mentions directing me to a 50 second TikTok video with two white teenagers.  Less than 6 seconds into the video they kick the door into a well-lit bathroom and tossed into the sink is a ripped piece of wide-ruled notebook paper with word ‘niggers’ scribbled on it.  For obvious reasons, you can imagine I had no interest in watching further.  The Black experience, despite your nationality, is for the most part monolithic in the United States.  The pain runs deep because day in and day out, it’s still inflicted.

Earlier today, I finally decided to take a look at the video, knowing that obviously, I’d be discussing it amongst friends or next week on the radio.  Getting past the first six seconds, I watch the video play out.  A white female holds her smart phone in the mirror, while the male reaches for the cup to reveal what’s written underneath it.  The male, who we know now is named Jeffrey Hume, just seconds later lifts up a cup of water to reveal another sliver of paper with the word ‘black’ written on it.  He takes the cup of water and pours over the ‘niggers’ sheet in the sink.  Panning the camera to the other side of the sink, the white female, Stephanie Freeman focuses on another cup of water pinning down yet another sliver of paper, the verbiage: ‘don’t have a dad’, Jeffrey pours yet another full cup of water over the ‘niggers’ paper.   At best effort, it immediately became evident to me that this was not going to be the type of TikTok video I’ve come to enjoy while on quarantine.  It appeared that the odd couple would continue lifting cups and reading statements as they read the next one: ‘eat watermelon and fried chicken.’ The pouring continued.

The next cup, ‘make good choices’ was empty.  There was nothing to pour out.  Jeffrey shakes the cup as Stephanie proclaims ‘there’s nothing there!’  The game continues, ‘rob people’ Stephanie belts as Jeffrey interjects ‘specifically white people,’ pouring water over the ‘niggers’ paper once again.  Seemingly overjoyed, the couple aim at the last cup.  Stephanie announces ‘the last cup is…’ as Jeffrey answers ‘goes to jail’ and pours water on the paper for the final time.  The video blips as the faucet runs and they pour one final full cup over the paper.

It was obvious to me why this video caused the uproar that it did, yet this time it did not generate the usual shock or disgust. I wondered, as I analyzed my own reaction if I was growing numb to this sort of white nonsense, yet immediately came to grips with the truth: this was meant to get a reaction.  This was done boldly. This was not in jest, not as a mistake and not as a joke.  The words were written.  The camera was rolling.  The words were said.  The video was edited.  The video was uploaded.  The video was posted.  The video was shared.  This was intentional. This was malicious.  This behavior is innate.   They relished in this. This is an exact picture of who they are, whether they’ve ever shown the world this piece of them or not.  This is more than likely who their ancestors were.

Writing this, in this climate, I had to consider my future.  How far am I from a Fox News smear?  What can I say that will not inhibit me or severely limit my chances at success if I plan to spread my wings and run for office one day?  You see, I’m thinking.  I’ve considered, despite my little success, how quickly things could come to a screeching halt.  Privilege has a way of ignoring natural alarms.   It’s often said that racism is taught behavior and for it to end, the teacher must die.  I argue, that while taught, it must also be embraced.  Conditioning plays a major part on how one sees the world, but we’ve all been taught that what’s in you, will come out.

Like many times before, the forensic detectives of Black Twitter did the dirty work.  We know who these thugs are because of the hard work of these heroes, but why is it the responsibility of the oppressed to identify, prosecute and demand justice of their attackers?  It’s time for this type of hateful behavior to be met with pressure.  Racism, in any form should face severe ramifications like the crime it is.  More often than not 15, 16 and 17, Black and brown bodies are charged as adults for felony crimes, why not even the playing field?

Jeffrey and Stephanie have been expelled from Carrollton High School.  While their future may seem bleak to some, it’s no secret to you or me that they’ll be back to their normal lives in no time.

 

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Alex Haynes is Editor-At-Large/NYC Editor at Urban Newsroom, Executive Editor at UNR's Black News Alerts and the host of Unmuted Nation on BossFM. Alex joined Urban Newsroom in 2010 and contributes regular op-ed and editorial pieces while advising the columnist and contributing staff.

Coronavirus

New Jersey Allows All- Remote for School

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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy talks COVID-19 efforts in a hot spot. Michael Brochstein/Sipa USA/AP

New Jersey may go fully remote for the upcoming school year if they wish.

What We Know:

  • Governor Phil Murphy announced Wednesday that he would allow some districts to offer an all-remote option this fall, backpedaling course due to the rise in protests of the idea in reopening school buildings.
  • Murphy also delivered an executive order clearing K-12 schools and colleges and universities to resume in-person learning at once.

  • With these new guidelines, districts that decide to begin the semester remotely are having to explain why they have not met state health and safety standards to open in person, provide a plan for achieving those standards and provide a date when they will begin in-person instruction.
  • Gov. Murphy stated at his latest coronavirus briefing that they acknowledge that for some districts, there are legitimate and documentable reasons why some of these core health and safety standards can’t be met on day one. He went on to add, “For these districts, today, we are reaffirming our commitment to provide the flexibility for districts to do what is best for their school community.”
  • All this comes amongst the increasing pressure from some local educators, officials, and union leaders to maintain schools closed as COVID-19 continues to affect New Jersey.
  • Gov. Murphy said there is not a one-size-fits-all plan and that they are committed to getting this right. He stated that any student who chooses to continue remote learning has to be accommodated.
  • Some North Jersey districts have already made petitions to go fully remote in the fall. These include Passaic, Elizabeth, Jersey City, and Bayonne. The superintendent said a preparation drill demonstrated it would take hours to check student temperatures as they filed into the high school.
  • Yet, for several districts, meeting state guidelines could be complicated. Willingboro Public School Superintendent Neely Hackett said during Gov. Murphy’s conference that the area faces PPE back-orders and inadequate HVAC systems, pausing the openings of the buildings for next month. In July, district leaders voted to go all-remote for the fall semester and researched ventilation upgrades.

Judith Persichilli, State Health Commissioner, said the Health Department would split the state into six regions to track the virus’ impact on schools, similar to how it manages school surveillance. Persichilli also announced four color-coded risk categories for those regions that will be updated every week and used to inform local decisions.

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Education

PSAL Sports Season Delayed Indefinitely, New York City Says

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The Department of Education in New York City released its plans for the 2020-21 academic school year and it does not include sports.

What We Know:

  • The Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), which coordinates interscholastic competition for all New York City Public High Schools, announced August 6th that fall sports will have an indefinite delay to their seasons.
  • In a letter sent to parents and students, the PSAL relayed, “We recognize the importance of sports to our scholar-athletes along with the PSAL community and are working diligently to provide athletics in accordance with all health and safety policies. While we are anxious to reconvene PSAL activities, the health and safety of our athletes is our top priority and sports programming will not return until it is safe to do so.”
  • In regards to when exactly the fall sports seasons will start, PSAL pledges they “will continue to monitor all available information from [their] various governing bodies and associated health experts to determine an appropriate date to resume PSAL activities”.
  • The state’s Health Department guidances do not allow for interscholastic sports due to the current pandemic. In PSAL’s official press release, they noted, “Per CDC guidelines, the associated risk of any sports activity is increased when athletes engage in competitive play across different geographic areas. Therefore, when PSAL activities are permitted to resume, they will be restricted to practice and conditioning until further notice.”
  • PSAL is the second of New York’s four athletic associations to announce delays to sports seasons. Recently, the New York State Public High School Athletic Association made the decision to delay all sports until September 21st, as well as cancel all Fall Championships.

Although Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on the 7th that New York City schools will be allowed to return to in-person instruction, the decision on interscholastic sports is still up in the air.

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Coronavirus

Georgia School From Viral Photo Temporarily Closes

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Hallway inside the high school this week. (Credit: Hannah Watters)

North Paulding High School will temporarily move to online learning after nine students and staff members tested positive for the coronavirus.

What We Know:

  • North Paulding High School opened its doors for the 2020-2021 school year on August 3rd and they’ve already closing them again, just a week later. Six students and three staff members tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the school to temporarily switch to online learning and cancel all extracurricular activities for the time being. The school sent a letter to parents and guardians on Sunday, saying that the building will be closed for Monday and Tuesday. A decision will be made on Tuesday regarding in-person learning.
  • Located in Dallas, Georgia, North Paulding High School made headlines last week after photos went viral showing students tightly packed in hallways, many of them without face coverings.
  • Two students were suspended for taking the photos and posting them to social media. One of the suspended students, Hanna Watters, spoke to news outlets about her story, saying she was concerned about everyone’s safety and that her suspension was “some good and necessary trouble”. Watters was originally suspended for using her phone in the hallway, using social media at school, and posting photos of minors without consent. The school reversed her suspension.
  • According to students, the school is not requiring face coverings or social distancing. Superintendent Brian Otott said, “Wearing a mask is a personal choice and there is no practical way to enforce a mandate to wear them.” Before the school year began, several football players at North Paulding also tested positive for coronavirus.

Other Georgia school districts are encountering similar problems. In Gwinnett County, around 260 staff members either tested positive for coronavirus or were exposed to it. In Cherokee County, over 250 students are in quarantine due to exposure to the virus.

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