By Marissa Johnson
At Indiana’s Concord Intermediate School, NyZeria Neely was performing exceptionally well. She was placed in advanced classes in a school where only ten percent of the students were #black and two percent of the staff were black. Yet, she managed to excel without a preponderance of black role models within her school.
At one point, a girl in one of her classes called her the n-word, but the school refused to do anything about it. Less than a month after that incident, Neely received a threatening letter in her locker that said “N*ggers don’t belong!!!”
Did the school think this was just regular bullying and that she was only being picked on because she was different—or did the school realize this was a case of racism? Was the school afraid that by taking action, Neely would be bullied more?
The principal told Neely that they were “just words.” But Neely said that, for her, they were more than words.
The Superintendent Wayne Stubbs seemed to prioritize handling these transgressions against one of its students, but in the end, it was just lip service.
Stubbs issued an automated and generalized message simply stating that harassment would not be tolerated. Yet again, the school refused to take action against any of the perpetrators or to take any real action to stop the harassment.
Frustrated, NyZeria’s parents brought home made posters and stood outside the school with a sign saying “Stop bullying our children.”
The police told NyZeria’s parents that they are not allowed to trespass on the school grounds anymore. Apparently, the right to protest is not protected on school property.
In response to the many incidents at Concord, the family pulled their four children from the school, but they are still demanding a public apology from school officials.
At last count, over 76,000 people “liked” the Addicting Info article on Facebook. Commenters called for lawsuits, police action, and ACLU involvement as a remedy.
One commenter posted Principal Stamm’s email address (firstname.lastname@example.org). Several commenters said they wrote emails to the principal expressing their disappointment with how he handled NyZeria’s case.
The issue even received some international attention. One Canadian, Kat Palmateer, provided the email she sent to the principal. In it she said she’s “disgusted and dismayed.” She urges the principal, “Whatever your personal feelings are, it is your job to further the education of all your students.” She then went on to tell the principal if he can’t handle the job he needs to find a new career.
However, another commenter who goes by the name of Loren Daniel had a different take on the case and seemingly blamed parents for allowing racism to happen to their children. “I have a question? Why do we feel the need to educate our children around white folks? Did the parents set their children up for this? Our children can and do succeed in schools with folks that look like us.”