Several Torrance residents have reportedly expressed their displeasure with a video showing a group of teenage girls laughing while hurling a racial epithet. The video in question, according to CBS News, was shot five years ago. However, the video was recently circulated among South High School students.
“It really hurt me at first because it was an African American leading them on to say it, which makes everyone think it’s OK,” South High School junior Jayla Lewis said of the video. Lewis went on to say that the video was sent to a Black classmate on Monday, along with offensive texts like “You don’t fit in with the rest of us” and “Go back to Africa.”
Lewis said the incident reminded him of a personal experience he had in eighth grade. “I had two boys tell me to go back to Africa and pick cotton with my ancestors,” Lewis said.
Lewis claimed that the boys involved in the incident received no punishment. With that in mind, the junior believes the girls’ chances of being held accountable are slim. According to Lewis, the majority of them are currently seniors with leadership positions in the school’s Associated Student Body and sports.
Black students make up 3% of the South High student body. Following the recent incident, the majority of them say they are hesitant to return to school.
“There aren’t many African Americans on the staff,” Lewis said. “There isn’t really anyone I can go to for personal or cultural issues.”
Torrance Unified School District said in a statement that it had addressed the issue. “I can assure our school community that if students have conflicts with one another at school or at a school event, we will work with them and their families to provide the support and supervision needed to help them address their conflict in a respectful and productive manner,” the district stated.
The district also urged students and parents to report any such incidents. They also stated that “student safety and well-being” are important to them. But Lewis’ mother, Linda Morris, said the district needs to figure out what caused the problem so that something like this doesn’t happen 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.”