The parents of a Black Tennessee teen have had enough of their son reportedly being bullied due to his race.
In a federal lawsuit, the parents of a 14-year-old student allege that their child has endured months of hurtful, racist bullying at the mostly white school. The teen attends Church Hill Middle School in Church Hill, Tennessee, where out of around 7,000 residents, roughly 96 percent are white.
Larry Crain, the attorney representing the family, said, “There’s been documented incidents in this case of no fewer than 12 racial harassment episodes.”
The teen’s identity has been withheld, but reports say that in the last school year, he is one of only five Black students in the school of about 400. The 14-year-old has a Black father and white mother.
While speaking of the case, Crain said, “Stalked this young man, I guess, is the best way to put it, shoved information in front of him depicting African-Americans with nooses and KKK literature.”
According to reports, the federal lawsuit was filed late last month (May 24) and states that tormenting dates back to September 2021. One of the messages from a white classmate supposedly said, “fight me you (expletive) monkey.” The lawsuit seeks $2.5 million in damages.
In addition to allegedly receiving illustrations of KKK members holding torches on “monkey island,” the boy was also “a victim of a slave auction” and “nominated as monkey of the month” by white students.
Some of the events were said to be filmed and posted to social media.
Crain says the 14-year-old’s mother Erika Qualls was unsuccessful in getting the school to intervene and enforce consequences. “There was no effort made to intervene at the school level to make sure the perpetrators of these attacks were dealt with appropriately.”
The attorney added, “It is this young man who, in many times, was accused of being the initiator of these incidents and was even disciplined himself on occasion.”
The Hawkins County Board of Education issued a statement to The Atlanta Black Star that read, “Hawkins County Schools understands a parent has filed suit against our school system. Though the school system will not address specifics in an effort to protect student privacy, we vehemently deny that our school system tolerates racial discrimination or harassment of any kind. When such allegations are brought to our attention regarding student conduct, we take steps to investigate the same and to discipline those found responsible.”
It continued, “Hawkins County Schools and the many educators who work within our school system strive to create an environment where all students – regardless of their race – feel safe and welcome. And we will defend ourselves in court against any claims to the contrary.”