Two Missouri parents are urging the school district to implement a uniform penalty for bullying, demeaning language or harassment after their children, who are Black, were sent a racist meme by a white classmate.
According to CNN, the incident occurred on February 27, when the two eighth-graders at Hixson Middle School were at lunch. They were sent an image showing a white man spraying a hose at a young Black child. The meme quipped “Go be a n–ger somewhere else.”
The school immediately launched an investigation and identified the student behind the photo.
“Upon learning of what has reportedly happened, the school’s administrators responded immediately,” Webster Groves School District Superintendent John Simpson said in a statement, according to the network. “You can be assure [sic] that this kind of behavior has no place in our schools and will not be tolerated.”
The meme was sent to the students via Air Drop, but while one student declined the file, Shaun Swearengen’s daughter accepted.
“I’ve been crying on and off all day, all night … every time I see the picture I just immediately start crying because I just can’t believe someone would think that was OK to send to my child,” Yolanda Morris, the mother of the 14-year-old girl said.
And while Swearengen and Morris are thankful at how the school responded, they want district-wide changes to how racist incidents and bullying are handled.
According to CNN, there is currently no uniform punishment for incidents like this, and thus, punishment can range from detention to suspension, leaving it up to the school’s discretion.
He also wants the school district to be better equipped to educate students on the historic inequalities that Black people have dealt with and continue to deal with.
“I wish I can talk to the kid and show them photos in the ’40s and ’50s when white people actually used water hoses to spray black people with. I don’t think he really understood what it meant,” Swearengen said.