Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Two white teens thought it would be funny to hang bananas in the stairwell most often used by black students in their high school. They refer to the stairwell as ‘the jungle.” When asked why, the teen couldn’t explain without resorting to “the blacks call it that too…” In the accompanying video, a white mother chastises the boys saying “it’s not okay to treat people like that.” One boys reaction was, “Well we wouldn’t have said it to people who…” as the mother chastised him some more. I truly wish that the mother would not have interrupted so that we could have heard what type of people would’ve been exempt from this sort of prank.
I get the feeling that the kids really had no idea that it would have caused such a commotion… Therein lies the problem. To them, this is just a prank, a few harmless laughs at the expense of the dignity of their black classmates. Where is the harm in that? The entire incident is actually quite telling; the fact that the area is called ”the jungle,” the fact that no one seemed to see the kids hanging the bananas and thought it needed to be addressed, that a black student was removed from the ensuing confrontation—rather than a white student—and subsequently arrested for assault, the fact that in the video footage, the parking lot has several cars with words like “Let Andrew and Kyle Walk” written on the windows in support of the pranksters who were scheduled to graduate the day following the incident, but feared that disciplinary action might prevent them from taking part in the ceremony.
The school principal decided to suspend the boys for a few days, which would mean that they won’t walk with their classmates at graduation, although they will still receive diplomas. The other boy involved offered as an excuse, “Well, we’re teenagers.” Yes, they are. In a society and media cycle where we are being told time and again that things are changing with this new generation and that race relations are improving because of the current young people, they are teenagers; the hope and promise of a better tomorrow.
Another news report quoted Carel as saying that he still hopes to join his friends at the graduation ceremony, "Walking to my graduation is like once in a lifetime thing, and it just hurts not to be able to walk." Well, Andrew, being the butt of cruel racist jokes should be a never in a lifetime thing and it just hurts not to be able to walk with our heads held high and be considered valuable, viable, worthy and equal.