I-TEAM: A License To Be Racist?

DAYTON — Several black parents in at least two local school districts are concerned after their students told them about seeing a homemade, laminated ‘license’ that allows white students to use the N-word.

News Center 7 Investigator Reporter Letitia Perry talked with two mothers who say district leaders aren’t doing enough to address this kind of racism and bullying in schools.

Perry talked to a mother from Riverside and a mother from Fairborn about the N-word pass. Both of their sons have been shown the ‘N-Word Pass.’

Antwyne Smith said, “It is a picture of a baby and a watermelon and said ‘N-word Pass,’”

Sh’ron Henderson was shocked when her son, Antwyne, told her that his white friend showed him the ‘N-Word Pass.

“With the card, he was like ‘Hey mom look at this.’ And I was more upset about it than him,” Henderson said.

When Sh’ron moved to Riverside, she was excited that her 15-year-old son would start high school at Stebbins High School. However, that excitement quickly turned to dismay, starting the first day.

“He actually went to class late, with a pass from the guidance counselor and the teacher told him, in front of everyone, he’s acting kind of suspicious to me,” Henderson said.

In fact, that first week, she said her son was called a monkey, and taunted in the classroom and lunchroom and there were other issues that she made the 9th-grade principal aware of but to no avail.

One month later, at Stebbins, Antwyne was presented with the ‘N-word Pass.’ He took a picture of it and showed his mother who was furious.

“I was very surprised when I saw it. He showed me the card and I said, ‘Was this online or did somebody show you this card,’” Henderson said.

She pulled her son out of Stebbins and enrolled him in an online homeschool program.

Experts said bullying hurts the student and can hinder the education process. Child psychologist Dr. Max Tokarsky from Dayton Children’s said, “Just the perceived presence of racism can be damaging to someone’s psyche. If I feel like I’m not in a safe environment, and I’m being misjudged and mistreated then that’s already a cognitive and a mental and emotional load that I’m having to deal with.”

News Center 7 showed the pass to the president of the NAACP Dayton unit, Derrick Foward, and he called it shocking.

“I wish they had come to the NAACP because we would’ve dealt with it right there at Stebbins High School,” Foward said.

Several times, we asked for an on-camera interview with Mad River School leaders, but they refused. However, they sent the following statement:

“The district has a zero-tolerance policy against bullying in any form and will not stand for racist bullying. The incident happened several months ago and was limited to one event.”

The school statement also said one student was disciplined, although it’s unclear how.

News Center 7 checked and found out how many instances of bullying some local districts have dealt with this year.

Kettering City Schools has seen 30 confirmed cases of bullying this year. Huber Heights City Schools has seen 85 cases. Fairborn City Schools reported five cases this year and Dayton Public Schools has had 59 bullying cases between December 2022 and now.

The numbers show, although not broken down into a racism category, bullying is a problem in schools across the Miami Valley.

Henderson agrees saying the ‘N-Word Pass’ is proof of that.

“There’s no way to change the minds of a full student body at one time. But if the adults do address it and take corrective action – then at least the children will understand that it’s not acceptable,” Henderson said,

In the following video, Dr. Tokarsky talks about how important it is to teach our kids coping skills at an early age. That way, when they are confronted with challenges like bullying, they know how to respond.

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