Black students at a Missouri high school were told to go to the back of the bus on the same day a boy was allegedly burned by a white student with a glue gun. This happened just a day after Donald Trump was voted as president-elect.
The incidents took place at Laude Horton Watkins High School in Ladue, Missouri, on Nov. 10. Lynette Hamilton claimed in a Facebook post on Nov. 15 that her son “was cornered in the classroom by a Caucasian student, antagonized and taunted with a hot glue gun.” She also posted photos of third degree burns on her son’s arm and stated her son’s bottom was also burned because he unknowingly sat on a chair splattered with the hot glue.
She said she went to the school to demand a meeting with Principal Brad Griffith but was told she first needed to schedule an appointment. As of Nov. 15, she still had not heard from the principal.
The reported glue attack is not the only case of racism in the school. On the same day the above incident happened, a group of white students were seen chanting “Trump! Trump!” at blacks students in the school bus. One white boy also ordered all black students to “sit in the back of the bus” according to Tajah Walker, a 15-year-old student who was also targeted during the incident.
Two unidentified students were disciplined for their actions, but according to Walker, one student was happily bragging about no longer being suspended because his mother “got him out of it.”
On Tuesday evening, Walker’s mother, Tango Walker-Jackson, said her daughter had endured five such racist incidents this year.
Telling African Americans to sit in the back of the bus has a painful history. During the Jim Crow era, black people were forced to sit near the back of the bus while white people were given the seats in the front. Then came a turning point in American civil rights in 1955 when Rosa Parks, a soft spoken seamstress who later became a voice for the oppressed African American community, boarded a bus and sat in the middle section behind the “whites only” section.
When all the front seats were filled, she was ordered to go back to make space for white people. She refused and was ultimately arrested for her defiance.
On Wednesday, at least 150 students walked out of class to protest racially charged incidents on campus and the unconcerned attitude of the school administrators. Many African American students said they wanted harsher punishments for students responsible for the incidents. Some said black students had gotten much stricter punishments for minor offenses. Others said they were unjustly chastised for not standing up for the pledge of allegiance.
“If you don’t have a struggle, you can speak for the people that do,” sophomore Sydney Alexander said to the white students who had come out to protest. “Use your privilege to speak for me. Don’t let this be another wasted conversation like every other one was.”
“I’m only a sophomore, yet I’ve had so many racial issues already,” an unidentified student said. “From the two years that I have been here, I’ve already had so many racial issues — and the only time you have done something about it is when you get busted for it.”
“We need to be smart, we need to be proactive and we need to put ourselves in a space where we can be most successful, let our voices be heard,” Shante Lyons, the American history and African-American studies teacher said. “The people are hearing us. But we need to be focused right now. So what are the steps we can take to put us in the most productive situation possible?”
The students are planning to protest every day, according to the school’s Facebook page. The next protest will be held on Thursday, Nov. 17.