NORMAL (WEEK) – A video surfaced last week showing either current or former Normal Community West High School students using a racial slur and one in ‘black face.’
That video sparked over 2000 signatures on an online petition to get those students expelled. That petition has since been taken down said the student who started it. The reasoning for taking it down is still largely unknown, but several students suspect it was reported to Change.org as ‘spam.’
But that didn’t stop over 300 people from showing up at Normal West Monday afternoon. Led by the Normal West Black Student Union, the crowd cheered, clapped, and cried together as they listened to stories of students who recounted racism they’ve experienced in and out of school.
“We won’t stand for bias and racism in the schools. We’re pretty much fed up with it,” exclaimed Jasmyn Jordan, a rising Senior and Founder/President of the Normal West Student Union. She started the group a little over a year ago as an effort to unify the Black student body by giving back to the community and fighting for equality.
The video in question is too sensitive to be shown. But it features female students saying the ‘N’ word out loud, using the ‘N’ word in a caption on a social media post, and one student with a substance covering her face, commonly referred to as ‘Black Face.’
Justin Turner, another Normal West Senior, led the group as they marched from Normal Community West High School to Parkside Elementary. In front of the elementary school the massive crowd gathered around a small group in the middle, kneeling in solidarity for 6 minutes.
“I think that it’s very important for students to step up first of all because since we’re the future we’re going to have to show recognition during things like this. Because if we’re going to stay silent nothing is going to change,” explained Turner.
It wasn’t just Normal West students. University High, Bloomington High, and Normal Community all had students present. Something the Bloomington/Normal Chapter of the NAACP stood behind.
“Anyone can do the easy thing and remain quiet and not take a stand for justice. So we applaud these students for realizing that they absolutely had to take a stand to do what’s right,” said chapter 1st Vice President Carla Campbell-Jackson.
The Unit 5 school board also marching with their students. “We are proud of our black student union at normal west for exercising their voice and working to improve our schools. These students are demonstrating the leadership and the bravery necessary to promote change and challenge our institutions,” said Board President Amy Roser.
The group marched with a list of demands. Those include swift punishment for students involved in racist comments or actions whether in or out of school, including expulsion. They are also demanding the district increase diversity standards for staff and teachers, as well as more diversity for school clubs and classrooms.
“I will be willing to die for this movement right here and then because i’m tired of seeing stuff like this happen every single day. Because it hurts, it hurts me. And for you to say it’s just a word, I can’t believe that,” explained Senior Justin Turner.
Black Student Union President Jasmyn Jordan also said, “Students aren’t born racist. Youth aren’t born racist. It’s something that’s taught to them. So whether it’s at school or at home it’s something we need to fix.”
The status of the students who posted the video is still up in the air. Despite the online petition to have them expelled being signed more than two thousand times before being taken down.