Racist comments from a male senior, what should we do?

It sounds like this has been successfully dealt with. He acted like a jerk, she called him on it, he apologized. It may take him a few rinse and repeats for the lesson to fully sink in, but he understands he hurt her feelings and seems to feel bad about it.

In your first post you said your D was upset by the text message two days ago and the boy has been known for racist for a while. For how long? The kids in school did not make any complaint to the school admins? Is it possible your D and other kids collect all the facts about his behaviors in the past and ask the witnesses to go to talk to the school admins?

Yes @coolweather he’s known for being racist and sexist but he had never attacked anyone directly like he did to my daughter. Even he might have but no one has come forward and said anything. Daughter actually had a small talk with the councelor (not a complaint btw) and asked for advice. He even said that guy was just being a guy acting immaturely. School officials know how he is obviously. I guess it’s all settled and my problem is solved because H didn’t blow up the case at the end.

P.S. This guys has very little friends and my daughter probably is his only female friend. So I doubt he would have too much opportunity to offend people. He does it in social science class but you get to voice your own opinion, don’t you?

It’s good to hear. Thanks.

The teacher knew my child was Chinese (I’m not Chinese) and was definitely making a remark that if only I had books about China my child would be reading. This teacher did not like my daughter, and didn’t like the other minority kids in the class either, even the girl who was the top student in the class. It was pretty obvious to all. A year after my kids had her, she was forced to retire by other parents who had had enough (private school where some parents, not me, had a lot of power).

While it may be unfair, minority students do have to learn to deal with a lot of comments on their own. My daughter couldn’t possibly have reported every incident to school authorities and expected a smooth ride through high school. When she was younger, we actually worked on how to respond to comments. She could walk away, she could confront the individual (such as suggested above “I can’t believe you said that”), she could choose not to interact with the person again. If physical or threatening, she could (and should) report it. She couldn’t be battling every single thing another person said to her. Even within our family things were (and still are) said that are racist and not nice (my father is more like Archie Bunker than anyone cares to admit), or are sometimes just teasing. When she was very young and my brothers were teasing, I’d let it go until I felt she’d had enough and stop it. Each interaction she became a little stronger, a little less likely to take the teasing as a personal attack. They teased my other daughter too, and nothing would have hurt my Chinese daughter more than to not be treated as an equal to her sister and cousins. She had NO sense of humor (she was not an infant at adoption) and had to work on it or her life would have been miserable. Now she has a pretty good sense of what she must ignore and when she should speak up, and an even better sense of when she should just walk away. It is a rare comment that she reports to authorities.

Gender should not be an excuse for discriminatory comments. Unfortunately, grown men also make these types of comments. “Boys will be boys” is another trope that has gone on far too long.

It is quite disconcerting that administration has known about it, and not dealt with it. That would never fly at my kid’s school.

@twoinanddone

That’s an interesting take on things. So are you saying that you think bullying only occurs when physical intimidation is involved? Because otherwise all insults, name calling, etc. can be classified as “opinion”.

Now I am not saying one ill-advised comment makes something “bullying”, but still you might want to rethink the statement above, or at least clarify a bit.

It’s interesting how the world has changed. When I was growing up, I transferred into a school where I was the constant subject of racist remarks by students, and sometimes teachers. Back in the 70s, they were acceptable but it definitely affected me for many years following that. Fast forward decades and one of my kids attended an out-of-school enrichment class as a high school freshman. A couple of older boys from the rival high school started making comments first about her school, then about her attractiveness and race. The adult in charge just kept teaching. When I called the director of the program, she encouraged me to call the principal of their high school. I did and he handled it beautifully. He heard me out, promised to look into it, talked to the boys separately (they apparently admitted it), told them it was unacceptable, informed the parents and then he personally called my daughter to apologize and asked if she was ok. That was the end of it. I have always been thankful that he took such a reasonable approach and understood that a 14yo girl might feel threatened when a couple of 17yo boys make fun of her.

I really think your problem is your high school. They should have dealt with this better. That said, your daughter is a senior and this is NOT her friend. She should be told explicitly that people who express hateful, racist comments are not your friend even if you’re not the target of the comment that day.

Some commenters here have cited the First Amendment in the Constitution and “free speech”…while forgetting 2 things:

  1. That mainly applies to government attempts to suppress speech....especially political speech by private citizens, entities, etc. It doesn't apply to private individuals, institutions, or even employers...including public sector employers in employment or certain academic situations*.
  2. Even some of the founding fathers did not necessarily agree with the idea of "laughing off/ignoring" insults. In fact, a one doing so....especially if one was part of the upper/upper-middle classes back in their time period would have been considered tantamount to admitting the insulter was correct and being socially ostracized accordingly as well as for "cowardice" for not demanding satisfaction from the insulter in the form of a duel which could end with one or both duelists greviously injured or even killed outright.

This was the reason why insults…even ones we’d consider innocuous in our day usually prompted challenges to a dual to the insulter by the insulted…and sometimes men…including well-educated pillars of the community like Alexander Hamilton found themselves compelled by prevailing social convention to participating in duals…and in his case…dying from it.

  • Providing a safe secure educational environment for all students...including those from marginalized groups.

@fallenchemist I have the very same question. Certainly where I am from racial slurs are not considered merely opinions and if used in school are dealt with as against school policy. The OP’s D’s “friend” said what he did to her because of her ethnicity. It was absolutely a bullying comment and not at all an opinion.

It’s amazing to me how some people see racial and ethnic insults and slurs as just shrug worthy when they can cause lasting damage. Some time ago I attended a workshop for families that are biracial by marriage, birth, adoption, etc. (See the MAVIN Foundation). An entire group of young women adopted from Asian countries talked about the pain of not being protected by their own parents as relatives “joked” with them about their ethnicity. None of them were close to their parents as a result. I would and I have stood up to my own siblings and their kids when they’ve “joked” with my D about her race. She has never felt that I don’t have her back, but she also knows how to stand up for herself. The two are not mutually exclusive.

Someone mentioned above that European Americans were never interned in the U.S. They were: German- and Italian-Americans individuals during wartime. I’m unclear if this includes only immigrant residents or US citizens. The US also interned Germans from Latin America. Maybe some who knows their history can fill in beyond the smidge of info I know.

In WW2, a small number of people of German and Italian ancestry were interned; almost all were not US citizens, and their cases were considered individually (based on activities indicating potential national security risk, not just ethnic ancestry or nationality of an enemy nation), although there were some due process questions. Note that this was done to a small number persons of Japanese ancestry as well, before Executive Order 9066 forced all persons of Japanese ancestry to leave the western mainland or move to relocation camps.

Yes, this means that Executive Order 9066 was useless, wasteful, and counterproductive, since those actually believed to be national security risks as individuals were already being detained or kept under watch.

Thank you ucbalumnus, that was enlightening.
So German-Americans and Italian-Americans were detained on an individual basis based on lack of citizenship status/perceived national security risk.
Japanese-Americans were forced to relocate/detained in camps wholesale, because of their ethnicity. I am sure it was unconstitutional at the time.
It’s easier if you can tell a person is “other” just by looking at them, right? Try doing that with persons of German ancestry in the US.

To those who still feel the young mans comment was an anti immigrant opinion as opposed to a racist slur:
Do you think he might have made the same comment if the OPs daughter, who was born to a US American father and a Chinese mother in Hong Kong, had been born to a US-American father and an ethnically English or Irish mother inLondon or Dublin?

@kchendds

By following your breadcrumbs, I think I’ve figured out who this young man is. It doesn’t seem like he would have few friends (considering one of his ECs).

If your d and h really wanted to teach him a lesson, then how about notifying the committee/people that selects the valedictorian? If the administration knows what he’s like, then why would they want to pick this boy? And after notifying them of yet another transgression, wouldn’t this knock him out of the running?

@cobrat, the First Amendment is directly applicable here. Can a public high school stop a student from saying things? It can stop racial harassment, but some others here were saying that the guy shouldn’t be allowed to speak generally in favor of enforcing immigration laws, which isn’t so. Speaking about a political issue is exactly what the First Amendment protects, so going after the harasser should be limited to stopping the racist harassment.

This thread is an eye opener. I wish I could unread it.

"Yes @coolweather he’s known for being racist and sexist but he had never attacked anyone directly like he did to my daughter. Even he might have but no one has come forward and said anything. Daughter actually had a small talk with the councelor (not a complaint btw) and asked for advice. He even said that guy was just being a guy acting immaturely. School officials know how he is obviously. I guess it’s all settled and my problem is solved because H didn’t blow up the case at the end.

P.S. This guys has very little friends and my daughter probably is his only female friend. So I doubt he would have too much opportunity to offend people. He does it in social science class but you get to voice your own opinion, don’t you?"

Pomona class of 2020: acceptance rate at a record low of 9.1 percent.
Ten applicants for every place and this was the best they could do?

Yes (also some of Japanese ancestry as well, on an individual basis, before Executive Order 9066).

Yes, by Executive Order 9066, if they were unable to move out of the western mainland on short notice.

In 1944, the US Supreme Court sided 6-3 with the government in ruling that the exclusion of persons of Japanese ancestry from the western mainland in Executive Order 9066 was constitutional in Fred Korematsu versus United States.

It was also easier to indulge in a taste of racism when the targeted group was small enough that the disruption to society and economy was relatively small to others (unlike if an exclusion order were written for persons of German or Italian ancestry generally in the US, or persons of Japanese ancestry in Hawaii).