In October alone, there was an exceptional spike in racist incidents across the country.
Appearing in variant forms, mostly at schools or on social media platforms.
A report by "Teaching Tolerance", an initiative of the Southern Poverty Law Center, which joined forces with Propublica, tracked this number of incidents to 90. That would make approximately 3 incidents per day -- many of which acquired massive exposure and some even made national headlines.
What is startling about the rate of these racially motivated, sordid events is where they occur, at schools of all grade levels. AP spoke with Hira Zeeshan, a high school senior in Chicago, who has “been affected personally by the rhetoric as a Pakistani Muslim immigrant.”
But in the same "Teaching Tolerance" report that was also part of a joint social-media effort, #documentinghate, a majority of the incidents took place at high schools across the country, in 30 states, and nearly 30 instances “ appeared on Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter and other social media platforms.”
What has distinguished October’s incidents from other months, according to experts, is that they have been notably “brazen,” “intense,” and “more visible.” School officials have noted the intensification of these incidents on campuses where larger political national issues are also playing out.
There were several high schools in three school districts in Pennsylvania, one with a black doll hung by a noose and another with a “rock-throwing incident.” At Coatesville Area High School, which is located in one of those three districts, there were images of swastika-carved pumpkins that went viral on Twitter. Tajanae Primous, a senior, told Philly.com that she was, “scared to walk around in the hallways, because it’s like, people really think like that.”
At the Alabama-based Spanish Fort High School, there was another incident after a student-made incendiary rap music video emerged on social media. The video’s maker, according to Teaching Tolerance, “suggests that Dr. King’s ‘only dream’ should have been ‘picking cotton.’” In South Dakota, another video by students emerged at Sturgis Brown High School that led to the canceling of the school’s homecoming activities.
The photo of students from Coatesville Area High School had circulated on social media platforms.
In separate incidents, in Houston, Texas and another in Fresno, California students used Snapchat to send racist messages.
This snapchat message above was sent to an African-American student at Woodlands High School.
The above Snapchat message was sent by a student at Buchanan High School in Fresno, California.
While in New Jersey, the white nationalist group called "Identity Evropa" leafleted and posted fliers all over schools recruiting students from Rutgers University and more. The head of the U.S. Air Force Academy, Lt. Gen. Jay Silveria also delivered a speech at the academy, in which he calls on cadets to “treat people with dignity and respect – or get out.” This speech was delivered after the dormitory boards of 5 cadets were found with derogatory racial slurs:
Teen Vogue also reported on student efforts to rally against the dissemination of fliers reading, “Make America White Again” on University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus.
For a Washington state teacher,Terry Jess, classrooms are no longer neutral grounds. He said, “as far as what we're seeing from our political candidates, what students are seeing on social media. (...) that has started to creep in our hallways."
The Anti-Defamation League, in an article by Teen Vogue, has previously explained that this rise in racist incidents in schools noticeably began last year after the 2016 presidential election in November. Hate speech incidents, specifically those of anti-Semitism and vandalism, have nearly doubled in K-12 schools between the months of January and September of this year, according to the League.
The University of California in Los Angeles, in an article by ABC News, published a study showing a rise, from about “7 percent in past years to 51 percent [in 2017],” in student anxiety, something they have attributed to presidential politics. But perhaps for students, no event this year has been more traumatic, according to some, than Richard Spencer’s violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
October may have had an uptick of racist incidents to date -- but if the current political era has signaled anything, it is precisely that the number of incidents will likely not decline any time soon, at least not in the next four years.