Two North Carolina students are speaking out after they say they were unfairly punished for bringing attention to an incident of racism among classmates.
The incident unfolded last month as students from Central Cabarrus High School in Concord discussed Wednesday’s national school walkout, a protest by students across to the country calling for gun reforms one month after the deadly Parkland school shooting. Things quickly went left, however, after one student grew angry over the prospect of restrictive gun laws and used the n-word in a Snapchat video.
The heated discussion resulted in the suspension of four students, including two Black girls who re-shared the video, according to BuzzFeed News.
“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 at CCHS, about school administrators who handed her a two-day suspension.
Harris-Jackson said she began posting videos about gun reform on her Snapchat after other students criticized their proposed walkout, calling it stupid and “a waste of time.” In response, she posted a Snapchat Story explaining that gun control advocates like herself weren’t out to take everyone’s guns but want restrictions on who can buy them.
She and a few white students who identify as conservatives engaged in a back and forth about gun reform via the social media app. One of the white female students then recorded her friend, who’s also a CCHs student, saying, “They’re putting laws on who can purchase a gun. N—-r, no.”
Harris-Jackson took the attack personally and highlighted the severity of using such a slur.
“Me and [the girl who said it] were friends before this happened. We had a class together,” she told BuzzFeed News. “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,” Harris-Jackson added.
So, she and her best friend, 16-year-old Trinity Smith, re-posted the video on their Twitter and Facebook profiles, identifying the white student involved. The post garnered more than 10,000 views and 200 retweets on Smith’s Twitter page alone, prompting other students to share their own experiences with racism at the school, according to the news site.
CCHS administrators weren’t too pleased, however. The morning after the racist video was posted and re-posted, administrators asked that Harris-Jackson and Smith remove the clip from their social media accounts. The girls agreed under the condition that they would not face disciplinary action.
Yet, the next day, both were told they had two-days of in-school suspension for creating a “disruptive environment.”
“I know for a fact if I hadn’t posted it and caused a ‘disruption,’ you would haven’t cared as much, you all would have swept it under the rug,” Harris-Jackson said of the administrators.
“I can understand if I actually did something bad, but the fact is, I didn’t threaten this girl, I didn’t say anything derogatory,” Smith added. “The only thing I did was post a video and said I was disgusted with what she said. Because it is disgusting.”
The student who made the racial slur as well as the girl who filmed it received suspension as well. A spokesperson for Cabarrus County Schools declined to provide more detail about their punishments.
When asked about instances of racism at the school, the spokesperson assured that “racial prejudice and insensitivity have no place in our classrooms or on our campuses …”
Smith said she’s been discouraged from participating in any school protest since to the racist video.