A high school freshman infiltrated a group chat involving a number of other students who were exchanging racist remarks, disturbing comments and even notions of violence against black people.
14-year-old Cenayia Edwards, a black student at East Wake High School in Wendell, North Carolina, joined the group chat involving several white students, after hearing about it from a couple of her friends.
To be accepted to the group, Cenayia reportedly changed her online avatar to a white person’s face, to join the group which apparently contained two students from her school and five others from Corinth Holders High School, in Johnston County.
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Once in the group chat, the 14-year-old discovered a number of highly concerning remarks and messages, including the hashtag ‘#BringSlaveryBack’. There were also discussions reportedly suggesting ‘pulling triggers and shooting’ black people, murdering black babies, and the repeated use of the N-word, Newsweek reports.
It was also suggested the chats took place during school, as they often referenced events taking place in classes.
After discovering the disturbing and racist language, Cenayia told her family about the conversations . They then alerted East Wake High School about the students involved.
However, after an investigation, school officials reportedly told Cenayia and her family the students were not in violation of district policies, and therefore no suspensions would be issued.
The high school’s principal Stacey Alston, who is also black, issued a statement saying the language and behaviour of those involved was ‘not acceptable’.
Comments of this nature do not reflect our values. Moreover, they are damaging to both our school and our society as a whole. In the near future, we will be offering opportunities for constructive dialogue among our students, staff and families about racial issues.
These discussions have the potential to be difficult and emotional. But I am confident that we at East Wake High School have the maturity, the wisdom and, most importantly, the strength of character to engage in these conversations with one another thoughtfully and amicably.
The principal also urged school staff to speak to students about the importance living and working with people of different backgrounds ‘in harmony’.
Others in the community were not happy with the school’s response however, as disciplinary action is still reportedly yet to be taken.
Community activist Kerwin Pittman told News Observer:
It’s extremely egregious and troubling that the language of killing black babies and shooting black people from students is not taken seriously from school administration.
Cenayia, who first exposed the group chat, said:
I believed in my school to take the right actions toward this, but it was evident that they did not. This situation has definitely hurt me and opened my eyes to a lot of things. But it hasn’t broken me or developed any kind of hatred toward Caucasians.
While her father Edward added:
This is a threat to a whole community of people, not just to one person. For Wake County to not move and take action on this, it is not acceptable.
Elsewhere, officials from Corinth Holder High said they had ‘issued consequences’ to their students involved in the group chat.
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.