Hundreds of students from an Oregon school walked out of class on Wednesday in a show of support to Muslim and black students after a racist video was posted on TikTok by a fellow student.
“It’s not about shutting white people up,” Wajeeh Konge, a student at Tigard High School told KGW.
“It’s not about making us better than white people, it’s about making white people know we’re on the same level and deserve the same rights.”
Wednesday’s protest came after some Tigard students posted a video on TikTok with racist slurs targeting Muslim, Black, and Asian people.
“When I saw that video, it made me disgusted,” student Sydney West said. “I was sick to my stomach when I first saw the video.”
“I cried, I felt unsafe at my school. My skin isn’t as dark as other beautiful Black women here who literally were called monkeys,” student Sean Sorkoram added.
Disgusted and disappointed with the video, students lamented that it is not an isolated incident in their school.
“You can’t even walk 15 feet without being called a racial slur,” said student Jordyn Smith. “It’s not OK to be called the n-word, to be called monkeys, to be called anything to anyone. It’s not OK at all.”
“The reason I’m here and cleared my calendar is because first and foremost I’m an educator and I need to hear what the students are saying,” said Tigard-Tualatin School District Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith.
The school superintendent added that the school is providing safe spaces for students to discuss what happened and providing staff with training that will help them recognize and disrupt.
“It’s the beginning of a much larger process to get at this issue and do it in a way that brings everyone along with us,” Rieke-Smith said.
“The whole point of doing all of this is not to silence others,” Konge said. “It’s to give ourselves a right to speak.”
To counter rising school bullying, a Chicago-based Muslim rights group founded Healsters.org in the fall of 2021 in response to a spat of bullying episodes against Muslim students across the state.
In another effort, the Center for the Prevention of Hate and Bullying was founded by the Council of American-Islamic Relations and will be based in its Los Angeles chapter headquarters.
The two initiatives followed what CAIR California did as it released its 2021 Bullying Report Oct. 29. The report showed that about 56% of Muslim students in California said they feel “unsafe, unwelcome or uncomfortable” in school because of their religious identity.