News from Niles West: Black and brown students stage walkout after being targeted by anti-mask protesters using N-word
They gathered to protest after claiming that a group of about two dozen student anti-mask protesters at the suburban school hurled racial slurs, including the N-word, at black students and staff and browns at a protest last week on Thursday.
Sophomore Nadia Ahmed was one of the students targeted.
“They were saying the N-word,” Ahmed said. “They were pushing us away. I don’t know why they thought it was necessary.”
It is unclear whether anyone accused of causing the incident has been disciplined by the school.
“Why does it take the publication of the discrimination we face every day for our school to finally recognize our pain,” said student Briyanna Manzanares Etinenne.
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The afternoon student-led strike at the North Suburb School was organized with the support of the Evanston/North Shore chapter of the NAACP.
“There is no denial from the administration,” said Dr. Michael Nabors, president of the Evanston/North Shore chapter of the NAACP. “There’s no denial by the principal that it happened, and so the reality is that we’re here because it can’t happen. It’s 2022.”
Although the incident does not appear to have been captured on cellphone video, organizers said the verbal attacks also included the perpetrators making monkey noises.
Maggie Vandermeer of the education advocacy group Skokie Schools Equity Collaborative says this isn’t the first time parents and students have raised concerns about allegations of racial discrimination in the school district.
“We’ve had teachers talking about how there’s an anti-black problem in District 219, so we’re going to keep showing up,” Vandermeer said.
According to recent data, black and Latino students make up less than 20 percent of the district’s population.
In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for Niles Township High School District 219 wrote, “We are saddened and furious that our students live in a world where racial incidents occur and our schools are not up to par. shelter. We support our students’ right to free speech through peaceful protest. As a district, we stand with our students and staff against racism.
Some parents of black and brown students in support of the protest said that in this climate, they continue to worry about the safety of their children.
“I shouldn’t have to come to school every day ready to verbally defend myself against racial attacks,” student Adam Spellman said. “I should be able to get my education that I worked for and be a teenager.”
Student activists say this is just the beginning. They say there are more walkouts and more protests planned as they continue to push for change.
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