A video showing seven giggling teenage girls shouting a racial epithet has sparked outrage among many Torrance, California residents,.
“It really hurt me first seeing that it was an African American leading them on to say it, which makes everybody think that it’s OK,” said South High School junior Jayla Lewis.
While the racist video was recorded five years ago, it resurfaced on social media and is being reposted and going viral among students at South High School in Torrance.
On Monday, Lewis said, a Black classmate received the video along with hateful messages saying “Kill yourself. We don’t want you. You don’t fit in with the rest of us” and “Go back to Africa.”
The display of racism reminded Lewis of an incident from 8th grade.
“I experienced two boys telling me to go back to Africa and pick cotton with my ancestors,” said Lewis.
Lewis said the boys weren’t reprimanded at the time and she doubts the girls in the video will be, either. Many of them are now seniors at South High with leadership positions in the Associated Student Body and sports teams, according to Lewis.
Fewer than 3% of the students at South High identify as Black and many say now they don’t feel safe going to school.
“There’s barely any African American staff,” said Lewis. “It’s not really anybody I can go to for personal, cultural problems.”
The Torrance Unified School District said it’s addressed the incident with the students and their families.
“I can assure our school community that if ever students have conflicts with one another while at school or at a school event, we will work with them and their families to offer the support and supervision necessary to help them address their conflict respectfully and productively,” the district wrote in a statement.
Lewis’ mother, Linda Morris said the district needs to get to the root of the problem so this type of incident never happens again.
“My message to the district is to try to find out why these children don’t like African Americans,” she said. “We couldn’t choose our color. What is this that we have done, especially the students who are going there for academics and trying to get a good education — why do they feel like we don’t deserve it but they do?”
In addition to preventing future incidents, Morris said she wants an apology.
“I’m hoping for an apology, and I’m hoping for the girls to finally realize that what they’ve done wasn’t right,” she said.
In a statement, the district encouraged parents and students to report similar incidents to school officials. It also cited “student safety and well-being” as their top priority.
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