White students bullied Black classmates with ‘slave auction’ on Snapchat

‘Another in long line of incidents that are swept under the rug’

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 14 April 2021 21:00
Aledo ISD students punished for ‘slave trade auction’ on Snapchat of Black classmates

A group of white students at a school in North Texas have been disciplined after they reportedly set up a fictitious auction on Snapchat in which they pretended to sell their Black classmates.

The Aledo Independent School District was made aware that students at Daniel Ninth Grade Campus cyberbullied others because of their race. The district launched an investigation involving law enforcement, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported. What the discipline for the students included has not been revealed.

The paper was provided with a Snapchat screenshot that displayed groups with different names, including “Slave Trade” and another name that used a racial slur.

One user in the group said they would pay $1 for a person, with another stating they would pay “100 bucks”.

Local activists told the outlet that it was students who had set up the slave auction. Tony Crawford, one of the organisers behind the local group, Parker County Progressives, told The Fort Worth Star-Telegram that this was “another in a long line of incidents that are swept under the rug”.

He said: “Can you imagine what it’s like for somebody to put a price on your head? I cannot imagine the embarrassment and hurt that people you might be friends with are having that conversation.”

The Washington Post reported that words like “farm,” “auction,” and emojis of a Black man, a gun, and a white police officer were used in group titles. One student wrote that a classmate “would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad”.

At least one of the students who were “sold” were sent screenshots of the conversation, one his parents told WFAA.

A Black father of three told KXAS that he had removed his kids from the Aledo school district because of previous incidents of racism.

Mark Grubbs said: “Who do they think they are? What gives them the right to think they can do that to someone else?”

He added that there was “a lot of racism,” adding that eventually his son “didn’t mind fighting and that didn’t sit right with me and my wife. My son was never a fighter”.

Superintendent Dr Susan Bohn said in a statement: “There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period. Using inappropriate, offensive and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.”

Principal Carolyn Ansley wrote in a letter to parents that “an incident of cyberbullying and harassment” led the school to have a conversation with their students about the effects and consequences that inappropriate and hurtful language can have for others.

Parent Jo Jessup told WFAA that the letter was too vague and didn’t answer many questions.

“Part of the issue is parents were really upset that the original memo that came out said nothing about racism,” she said.

Mr Grubbs added: “Calling it cyberbullying rather than calling it racism ... that is the piece that really gets under my skin.”

Another parent, Ella Bullock, told NBCDFW that the incident didn’t shock her “because of the community we live in”.

Former teacher Amber Leeper told the outlet: “It softens the blow for those that may be uncomfortable with the conversation of racism.”

Ms Bullock added that the statement from the Superintendent mentioning racism still fell short because “it stops short of calling it hate speech”.

The school district spoke to the students involved, including their parents. Dr Bohn said in her statement that they “made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims”.

She added: “This incident has caused tremendous pain for the victims, their families, and other students of colour and their families, and for that, we are deeply saddened.”

The superintendent also urged parents to “have important conversations with their children at home about racism and other forms of harassment”.

Parents are planning to show up to the school district meeting on Monday to demand action be taken and that changes be made.

The Independent has reached out to Snapchat for comment. 

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