In a recent incident, Native American and member of the Tulalip Tribe Jaylen Fryberg, shot five students killing one and then fatally wounded himself which resulted in his death. Fryberg was a popular student and had recently won the honor as the high school’s freshman homecoming prince. CNN US has reported that Jaylen Fryberg was recently a victim of bullying.
In addition to being victimized by a bully, a Marysville-Pilchuck High School freshman named Jordan Luton contacted Fox News and suggested that Fryberg was responding to racist comments that other students had conveyed about Native Americans in previous weeks.
According to a report from the Seattle Public Schools, Native Americans account for 5.9% of the student population. In school district of 52% White students and a predominately White teaching staff, racism against Black and Native Americans can easily go undetected. Therefore forcing the racism victim to take matters in their own hands as Fryberg did. If the Seattle School teachers were more astute of the cultural behaviors of American Indian students tragic Seattle shooting could have been prevented.
One of the greatest fallacies that schools districts have bought into is that racial difficulties are classified as bullying. Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. Even through the definition includes attacking a person verbally it falls short in describing behaviors that are racially motivated which could have prevented the Seattle shooting.
According to No Bulling.com, the biggest targets for bullying are children who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender, special needs, overweight, or students who are perceived as overweight. NEA reported that bullying based on a student’s weight (23%), gender (20%), perceived sexual orientation (18%), or disability (12%) were of concern in their school (National Education Association [NEA], 2011). It appears that both nationally recognized organizations are oblivious to the impact that racial bullying can have on a child by not assessing the number of incidents according to race and racism.
Seattle schools must take swift action to prevent and backlash for minority students in the school district. White students may feel uncomfortable with Black and American Indian students. This may cause additional students fights. Parents may even jump into the picture and demand what measures will the school district take to ensure that any type of racism will lead to an incident such as the Seattle shooting.
The Seattle Schools must now take an additional step to eliminate classroom racism to prevent such events as the Seattle shooting. Since teachers are on the front line and have daily interaction with students it is best to initiate a program that eliminates classroom racism for all students.
When teachers demonstrate the acceptance of all races, then their students are more likely to different races. Students form other races, such as the American Indian will feel more comfortable sharing their challenges with teachers and therefore preventing such incidents as the Seattle shooting.
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 1668 Blackwood, NJ 08012
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Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
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~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President