A video of a Cherry Creek School District student using racial slurs and stating Black people shouldn’t be alive is prompting Colorado equity advocates to call for increased education, awareness and safety.
The video shows a student from West Middle School in Greenwood Village calling Black people racial slurs and stating that Black people should not be alive.
The student also states that they hate Black people, their skin color and how they talk.
At a news conference in front of the middle school on Wednesday, NAACP Rocky Mountain President Portia Prescott said the video points to a larger problem of children thinking it’s acceptable to use racist language.
“This is not an isolated incident,” Prescott said. “This is a state problem.”
In a statement, Cherry Creek School District officials said they were made aware of the video, which was shared in a group text, in late September.
“While this incident occurred off campus, we realized the potential impact this video would have on the student community. Administration and law enforcement acted immediately to investigate the situation,” school district officials said in a statement Wednesday.
The students found to be responsible faced “significant discipline,” Cherry Creek officials said. Details of disciplinary action cannot be disclosed due to student privacy rights, the district said.
“The Cherry Creek School District does not tolerate hate of any kind in our schools and realizes the trauma and pain these situations cause our students and their families. We take this seriously and offer support to impacted students and families,” district officials said in a statement. “We continue to work with community organizations to combat hate and ensure all students feel safe and supported in schools.”
Prescott said she has been contacted by multiple parents who are concerned about the school district’s handling of the incident and whether the video could be a precursor to violence.
“We want to work with the school system to make sure that all of our children — I don’t care what color you are, white, pink, purple, orange — all of our children are safe,” Prescott said. “We’re here to help the schools and the superintendent come up with new solutions to always protect all of our children.”
Racism and discrimination in metro Denver schools is not new, Prescott said — she experienced it as a student, as did her mother and her daughter — but it is something that can be addressed.
“Colorado is a leader in a lot of things. Why don’t we be a leader in this conversation?” she said.
Vern Howard, chair of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Colorado Holiday Commission, also spoke at the news conference and described the video as “very disturbing.”
“It is unfortunate that this took place on Sept. 26 and here we are almost two months later without resolution. So let’s work together. Let’s build a loving community, one that we can all live in, love in and exist in together,” he said.
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