District pays for black-on-black bullies

Two black students bullied for “acting white” by other blacks won a settlement from their South Carolina school district after they charged the school allowed a racially hostile educational environment. Because the abuse was motivated by their race, the claimants argued they were victims of discrimination, even though the bullies were also black. The district paid $50,000 apiece to the two students, who live in the same household, and $25,000 apiece to two family members for a $150,000 total, reports South Carolina Lawyers Weekly.

The elementary student claimed school officials ignored her complaints of  “racial and sexual slurs” that escalated to physical threats and assaults. After several months, she left school and was homeschooled for the rest of the year.

The suit also claimed that a school official and a district official, either individually or together, “retaliated” against the student by causing the state Department of Social Services to launch an abuse-and-neglect investigation of the plaintiffs and their household. The complaint said DSS determined the investigation, which included a strip search of the student, was unfounded.

The girl’s uncle, a high school student, testified that he didn’t fit in because his family was seen as “churchy,” “upright” and eager for education. In rural Williamson County, that’s not OK for blacks, he said.

“You see, it’s a crime to act white, or it’s a crime to be white,” the uncle testified.

It’s not new for school districts to be sued for tolerating bullying, but this may be the first successful claim of racial discrimination when only one race is involved, reports the Lawyers Weekly.

Via Volokh Conspiracy.

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  1. Alex Bensky says:

    This is unfortunately not new and not limited in scope. Some years ago I taught junior high school in Los Angeles. It was in a mostly white and Jewish area but we had some bused in kids from Watts.

    I was nonplussed when just before the first card marking several of my bused kids approached me quietly and asked me to give them C’s on the six week report card. They explained that everyone’s cards were examined on the bus home and the kids who did well would be harrassed and in some cases physically attacked. Stupidly I asked if the bus driver did anything about it; of course not.

    So although the students involved were B or A students I have them C-‘s and 2’s for cooperation and citizenship (1-3, 1 being best) for the take-home reports and then the A’s, B’s, and 1’s they deserved on the reports mailed home.

    These were the kids willing to risk humiliation and attack to do well in school. I couldn’t help wondering how many other students might have done well, or at least better, in a culture more conducive to learning.

    Social policy and money aren’t likely to do much until the cultural patterns change, and whenever someone suggests that he is condemned as “blaming the victim.” I don’t know what the answer is.

  2. I’m wondering if there are any repercussions to the professionals who should have been on top of the situation and clearly preferred that it just go away? I’m guessing, “no”.

  3. tim-10-ber says:

    I have a feeling the only way this can change is for the black community to make it happen…an excellent education should be the goal for all kids…not the streets…this is very sad…kids should be humiliated for working hard and learning or being gifted…bummer

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    There is such a thing as “minority push-out”, a disproportionate number of minorities being disciplined, usually by suspension or expulsion. Too high and you get a visit from various race hustlers.
    When the school is mostly black, though, I don’t see why the admin didn’t act.
    The retaliation is unacceptable.

  5. Don Bemont says:

    tim-10-ber said:
    “I have a feeling the only way this can change is for the black community to make it happen.”

    There may be some truth to what you say.

    How much truth?

    Well, look at my poor rural community which is predominantly white. Educational aspirations are low. Students who take notes, do homework, and study have trouble socially. Even in better times, parents and community have been cool to the idea of pushing kids to work much harder.

    Many say that the solution is to hold professionals accountable for turning this around; testing, merit pay, charter schools and so on…

    I say: “I have a feeling the only way this can change is for the (mostly white) community to make it happen.”

  6. Richard Aubrey says:


    Any of the achievers getting beaten up for being achievers?

  7. How can this be? I’ve heard many times that blacks can’t be racist.

  8. Don Bemont says:

    Richard Aubrey,

    Sure — achievers and hard workers have gotten picked on for time out of mind, or at least as far back as my high school days, which is pretty much the same thing. It’s pretty much a cliche.

    Nothing to do with my point, though. There’s a weird double standard whereby it’s up to the professionals to make it all good when the kids of “people like us” aren’t doing well… but it’s up to the community to change when its the kids of “people like them.”

    All of which is a reaction to a comment above, not the original article. The link describes an incident that sounds a whole lot more like typical bullying than racism, but lawyers have a way of taking an unjust situation and pursuing the case from an odd angle for reasons only another lawyer could understand.

  9. Wait…aren’t the kids who were beaten up guilty of being racist because they are promoting the ideas of academic success and personal restraint?
    I mean, come on, you can’t blame their classmates for being unable to contain their completely understandable rage about how the system is stacked against them.

  10. Richard Aubrey says:

    Considering what the Seattle school system wanted to consider racism–future time orientation, for example–any kid who does well is, by Seattle’s standards a racist.

  11. Margo/Mom says:

    I am with Don that I would likely consider this to be bullying–however, depending on the actual statutes available, racism might have been the best available venue to pursue something that was clearly wrong regardless of the specific motivations. I would also agree that the adults should know better than to allow such things, once known, to continue. Alex’s example reveals how easily adults conform rather than intervene.


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