A video of students chanting “build the wall” in the cafeteria of a local school has gone viral, outraging parents and igniting debates across the country about how the election results are influencing our kids.
The video, now viewed more than 2 million times, is from Royal Oak Middle School and shows students shouting the chant during lunch on Wednesday, the day after Donald Trump was elected president.
The clip seems to show at least one lunch monitor standing idly by, leading many to question how seriously staff handled the situation.
“This happened today at Royal Oak Middle School in Royal Oak Michigan. It is so sad. Latino children were crying,” Dee Perez-Scott posted to Facebook when sharing the video. “The taunts, the ‘Build that Wall’ with such bullying power and hate from children to children. Just Horrifying!”
Royal Oak Schools Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin released the following statement on Thursday:
“Yesterday, November 9, 2016, there was an incident during one of the lunches at Royal Oak Middle School that was captured on video and posted to social media. In the incident a small group of students engaged in a brief “build the wall” chant. School personnel in the cafeteria responded when this occurred.
We are committed to providing a safe, secure, and supportive learning environment for all students. We addressed this incident when it occurred. We are addressing it today. We are working with our students to help them understand the impact of their words and actions on others in their school community. Our school district and each building in it works every day to be a welcoming community for all, inclusive and caring, where all students know they are valued, safe and supported.
Because of the strong emotions and intensity of rhetoric that the posting of this incident to social media has elicited, we have had families express concern regarding student safety. Know that we work with our partners in law enforcement on responding to any and all threats that have been or will be made involving our students or schools.
In responding to this incident – indeed in responding to this election – we need to hear each other’s stories, not slogans, we need to work towards understanding, not scoring points, and we need to find a way to move forward that respects and values each and every member of our community. We will be working on this in school today. Please work on this with us.”
Some deny that the chant constitutes bullying or hate speech. “How is chanting essentially ‘secure our border’ something that people are getting worked up about? It’s nothing different than chanting a support for the police who protect your neighborhood. Illegals are about to have a rude awakening,” Michael Kozanecki posted in a comment on a Detroit Free Press article about the video.
But many others disagree, saying the chant was clearly used to intimidate other students.
“There is no place for this kind of rhetoric in our learning institutions. This kind of racist banter has no place in middle schools. These families here are not even illegal,” Brenda Guzman commented.
As many others point out, one problem parents and administrators may face, of course, is that the country’s new president-elect chanted that same phrase himself many times and used his plan to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico as a primary part of his campaign. So how exactly do we tell our kids why it’s so troubling?
What do you think of the video? How should the district and parents respond? Tell us in the comments.