Casual racism must end now

It is time for Langley to address the racial discrimination within its own student body

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Langley’s recent actions to deescalate casual racism coincide with the nationwide protests against police brutality in the wake of George Floyd’s death (Photo by Arielle Moore).

The Editorial Board

It was recently brought to our attention that a few Langley students posted a message on social media using the “n-word.” As privileged members of the Langley community, we recognize that we have already waited too long to speak up and that it is unjust to simply glaze over the larger issue at hand with a simple social media message. Racism is too normalized at Langley and people should be able to feel safe in their own community. Therefore, it is time for the administration and fellow peers to take action to help eradicate the casual racism within our own student body.

It was inappropriate of these students to use this type of language. During this time specifically, as the Black Lives Matter movement is rapidly gaining momentum across the country, the vulgar language caught the attention of more people and it sunk in more than it might have at a different time. This is unacceptable language to use even when a mass movement is not occuring, and this is not the first time that Langley has heard this word. Or the second, or the third, or the fourth, or the fifth. Racial slurs are shouted through the halls and whispered among classmates daily, and it almost seems like minority students have subconsciously learned to stay quiet because they know that the administration may not give them the support they need. 

“I have found in the last four years that I go to school with a shield up,” recent Langley graduate Lila Hampton said. “It comes up when I walk in and comes down when I walk out. During school I can’t be hurt, I laugh it off, because if the racism and offensive comments are met with anything but a smile, I’ll be cast out, and I’ll be labeled ‘unable to take a joke.’ Everyone wants a black friend but no one wants black issues, black experience, and black lives,” Hampton said.

The learned compliant nature of many minority students and the inbred racism within the Langley community is a disease that runs rampant. Saying the “n word,” or any kind of racial slur, is unacceptable. It is a word that carries the history of institutionalized racial discrimination against African Americans that has yet to be fully eliminated from our society. Using a word that has tormented generations of African Americans–a word that has finally been reclaimed–not only is insensitive and derogatory, but also reinforces the systemic racism in America. 

Though our generation may not be personally responsible for the lengthy history of inequality within America and we may not be able to personally repair the damage done, the least we can do is refrain from actively robbing African Americans of this one word that they have reclaimed after hundreds of years of oppression. 

“Racism is the very beast that built this country. America was built on the backs of those that are still being brutally murdered to this day,” an anonymous Langley junior said. “The burden of discrimination still sits on our shoulders and weighs us, as a country and humanity, down. There is no freedom until everyone is equal and clearly the chains of slavery are still binded to our feet,” she said.

It is time for students to stop using harmful racial slurs in a casual, joking way. Instead, they should think about the consequences of their actions upon other people. With only 36 African American students attending Langley during the 2019-2020 school year (a mere 1.67% of the student population), it is hard for people to truly feel supported and understood when speaking up for themselves.

In hopes of being heard, many students resorted to social media. The Instagram post on the Langley FCPS account had over 230 comments when the comments section was disabled. Both current students and Langley alumni boldy expressed their outrage and shared their stories of racial discrimination at Langley, conveying a sentiment of neglect. Langley students feel like they are not heard by leaders in their own community, a matter of poor leadership on the administration’s part. How are teenagers acting more mature and being more proactive than a fully equipped team of educators? Even if we are not in a typical face-to-face setting right now, it is imperative that students feel safe working with their peers and classmates. 

“Langley is hiding. They are covering everything up,” junior Tigist Taylor said. “They tell us they care about the black people in this community but the thing is, they never tried to set up a community for the black students in Langley,” Taylor said. 

Because school is not currently taking place in a conventional classroom setting, social media platforms allow students to freely speak their minds. More than ever, Langley’s minority students are speaking out about their feelings of unsafety and discomfort that they experience daily. Furthermore, on Instagram, outspoken individuals of the Langley community have explicitly indicated that the one statement released by the school’s administration does not represent the ideologies of the entire faculty or student body.

“It takes more energy to be ignorant than to be understanding,” junior Khalif Farah said. “I just want a Langley where nobody feels weird just because they look a little different.”

As members of the Langley student body, it is our duty to foster a community of justice, not just equity. All forms of contributions to the Black Lives Matters movement such as donations, protesting, signing petitions, or having hard and uncomfortable conversations are valid and welcome. In our own community, it is important to stand up for people when hearing a racist comment instead of staying silent. 

For students who want to attend a protest, make sure your efforts amplify African American voices by listening to black protest leaders. Additionally, remember that COVID-19 is still a threat: wear masks and practice social distancing when possible. In addition to health risks, protestors risk the possibility of tear gas, rubber bullets, or arrest. In order to protect yourself, wear goggles, helmets, jackets, and long pants. Finally, keep curfew times in mind and do not post videos or pictures that include protestors’ faces.

Please reference this link for ways you can help.

All money generated from ads in this video is being donated to the various organizations associated with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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