A North Texas school district is condemning the acts of students who reportedly assigned prices to students of color in a “Slave Trade” Snapchat group message.
The Aledo Independent School District released a statement on Monday denouncing the actions of students at the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus who were “bullying and harassing other students based on their race.”
In the group message, one student said a student was worth a dollar and the price “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad,” according to a photo of the group chat seen by The New York Times. The group message also had emojis with a police officer pointing its gun at a Black farmer.
The group message changed names multiple times and in one instance included a racial slur, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported.
Parker County NAACPN.A.A.C.P. President Eddie Burnett hasn’t spoken to the students who were bullied in the group message, but said he can imagine the pain and embarrassment from suffering similar things in an era when social media wasn’t around.
“It’s something that breaks you down mentally and emotionally,” Burnett said. “It makes you wonder if something is really wrong with you.”
Burnett said he has spoken with current and former students at the high school and believes this incident isn’t a one-off situation.
“When interacting with students of color and you start calling them names, it’s a part of dehumanizing that person,” Burnett said.
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Aledo, Texas is about 20 miles away from Fort Worth and predominantly white. Of the 413 graduates in 2018-2019 at the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus, only 7 were Black – 347 graduates were white and 45 were Hispanic.
“Can you imagine what it’s like for somebody to put a price on your head?” local activist Tony Crawford told the Star-Telelgram. “I cannot imagine the embarrassment and hurt that people you might be friends with are having that conversation.”
The district learned of the incident over two weeks ago and launched an investigation that included law enforcement. The district spoke with the students involved and their parents and “assigned disciplinary consequences in accordance with our policy and the Student Code of Conduct.”
A representative for Aledo ISD said the district could not release details of the consequences due to student protections. According to the school’s student handbook, a student found in violation of the bullying policy will face “disciplinary action” and could be transferred to a different classroom on campus.
“We ask that our parents and community continue to have important conversations with their children at home about racism and other forms of harassment as we all work together as a community to support our Bearcats,” the statement from Aledo ISD concluded.
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: [email protected]