By NICK CHILES
A couple of Florida teens have seen the sky come falling down on their heads after they posted a dumb, racist 14-minute rant on YouTube belittling their black classmates and neighbors, who they repeatedly refer to as “niggers.” The girls have been forced to leave their high school and have been subjected to harassment and death threats.
When I watch their video, I come away not so much outraged but saddened. The girls are not very bright, not very well-educated, not very worldly-wise and not very insightful, but yet they still felt empowered enough to spew their ignorance on camera for all the world to see.
While they are attempting to criticize the way black people talk, the girls claim that they are “eligible” when they themselves talk—as opposed to the black people who are not. I guess they were looking for the word legible, maybe? I don’t think the girls would be able to discern the meaning of the word irony.
“We are eligible,” one of them says, as she searches for the right word. “We use actual words. Black people do not.”
In another instance, when she is breaking down the racial makeup of her Gainesville, Florida, high school, she is unable to figure out the white percentage after stating that the black percentage is 60 percent and the Asian is 10 percent.
“I’m not very good at math,” she says.
There is no sadder indictment of the American education system than this video by these pathetic little girls. They think they are throwing barbs at black people, but what they are doing is demonstrating their idiocy and their terrible educations. A few months in a good school would have cured them of the ignorance that led to this video. A few months with some skilled teachers would have opened their eyes up to the world, to get them to see that it’s a much larger place than their tiny little corner of Gainesville.
When my (black) daughters walked into a school in suburban Atlanta, having moved south from the north, it would have been easy for them to belittle the ways of some of their (white) classmates—their narrow outlook on life, the fact that most of the kids around them hadn’t been exposed to as much of the world, hadn’t read as many books, hadn’t sampled nearly as many of the world’s cuisines. But part of their worldliness is an understanding that there are so many different types of people in the world, so many different places, so much that they still haven’t seen, that it would never cross their minds to make a video attacking the children in the community around them because they know that their experiences would likely be very different if they had moved to California or Texas or Maryland or Chicago.
“Every argument I have is based off where I live,” one of the girls says. “It’s a ghetto place. If you lived here, you would understand. You would not like these black people. That’s my argument. I have been raised around them. It’s how they are. It’s not even black people themselves—it’s the niggers. There’s a difference. There’s black people—they’re fine, they’re educated, they go to school, they do what they have to do. Then there’s niggers, who can’t talk right, they keep having kids, they can’t get jobs. There’s a difference.”
The girls and their mothers have gone out of their way to issue apologies, but this video and the ugly things that came out of their mouths are far deeper and scarier than any apology could paper over. The family, the school, the community that surrounds these girls has failed them, has not equipped them with the tools to survive and understand the intricacies and the causations of this complicated, multiracial world we find ourselves in. They look around them and think they understand what they see, but in actuality their vision is all foggy and clouded and confused.
I just wrote about the silliness of a white teacher in Chicago getting suspended for trying to teach his mostly black students about the history of the word “nigger.” This video demonstrates exactly why teachers like the man in Chicago need to be allowed to do their work. When we flee from these topics, what we get is ignorance crawling out from under rocks in Gainesville.
We make teenagers wait to drive so they can demonstrate they are responsible enough to operate a powerful and potentially deadly instrument like an automobile. Maybe we need to add a video camera and YouTube access to the list, because these little girls demonstrated they were not mature enough to handle the power they had in their hands. They thought they were making a strong stand for white people (though one of the girls is half-Cuban) but what these teen girls wound up doing is embarrassing the hell out of their parents and their community.
1. White Teacher Shouldn’t Be Suspended for Using the N-Word
2. Georgia’s Slavery Math Problems Show the Need for Parents to Stay Involved
3. Just Say “No” to the Stereotyping of African American Parents and Other Moms and Dads of Color
4. Slavery Math Problems in School? The Right Way to Do It