Black California high school student told to ‘go back to Africa’

Francis Akhalbey October 27, 2022
A Black student at South High School was told to "go back to Africa" -- Image via CBS News

Several residents in Torrance have reportedly registered their displeasure over a video showing a group of teenage girls hurling a racial epithet while laughing. According to CBS News, the video in question was recorded five years ago. But the footage was recently shared among South High School students. 

“It really hurt me first seeing that it was an African American leading them on to say it, which makes everybody think that it’s OK,” South High School junior Jayla Lewis said about the video. Lewis added that on Monday, the video was sent to a Black classmate with offensive texts that read, “You don’t fit in with the rest of us” and “go back to Africa.” 

Lewis said the incident brought back memories of a personal experience in the 8th grade. “I experiences [sic] two boys telling me to go back to Africa and pick cotton with my ancestors,” Lewis recalled.

Lewis claimed the boys involved in that incident weren’t punished. The junior added that with that being the case, the chances of the girls being held accountable are also slim. Lewis said a majority of them are currently seniors who hold leadership roles in the school’s Associated Student Body and sports.

Blacks constitute 3% of South High’s student population. In the wake of the recent incident, most of them say they have reservations about returning to school.

“There’s barely any African American staff,” Lewis said. “It’s not really anybody I can go to for personal, cultural problems.”

In a statement, the Torrance Unified School District said it had dealt with the issue. “I can assure our school community that if ever students have conflicts with one another while at school or at a school event, we will work with them and their families to offer the support and supervision necessary to help them address their conflict respectfully and productively,” the district stated.

The district also urged students and parents to bring such incidents to their attention. They also said they prioritize “student safety and well-being.” But Linda Morris, who is Lewis’ mother, said the district has to determine the cause of the problem – so an incident of such nature doesn’t occur again.  

“My message to the district is to try to find out why these children don’t like African Americans,” Morris said. “We couldn’t choose our color. What is this that we have done, especially the students who are going there for academics, and trying to get a good education, why do they feel like we don’t deserve it but they do?”

Morris also said she’s “hoping for an apology” and “hoping for the girls to finally realize that what they’ve done wasn’t right.”

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