Coming on the heels of an incident at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant that garnered national attention, a 14-year-old freshman at Naperville North High School was charged with a hate crime and disorderly conduct following a racist Craigslist ad.
On Thursday night, an emotional meeting was held in the gymnasium at the school, and although the event was previously scheduled and billed as a meeting on “courageous conversations,” it took on an even bigger meaning in the aftermath of the ugly events of the past month.
“We really have to have this conversation,” Naperville School District 203 Superintendent Dan Bridges said. “Confront brutal facts head on, and recognize that racism and hatred exist in this community, and that we need to better educate kids and communicate to them on what that racism is.”
In the latest incident, a 14-year-old boy at the high school was the target of a Craigslist ad that was titled “Slave for Sale.” The boy believed to be responsible for posting that ad is now facing hate crime charges, and has been disciplined by school officials.
Some students at the school, including senior Jordan Parker, believe that racism is more prevalent than some members of the community believe, and that she feels terrible for her classmate.
“Initially I was more shocked than hurt,” she said. ‘You wouldn’t think people are still so racist. I can’t imagine how he feels.”
The teen’s mother spoke out Thursday for the first time on the incident, and said that her son was friends with the boy who allegedly posted the hateful image on the website.
“I was devastated. They grew up and played football together,” Tamera Wallace said.
Wallace said that she forgives the teen for what he did, but that she also hopes that the incident can provide a teachable moment both to him, and to the community at large.
Beginning next week, school officials will begin holding special equity training for select staff members in the district.