Frost students’ chant shocks community

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Robert Frost Middle School’s name was spewed across the headlines of news sources on Wednesday, Sept. 24, but not for the reason of a blue ribbon award or some academic achievement. Rather, the middle school was in the news for a video that captured a group of students shouting a popular chant from a vine that contained the n-word.
The vine was created in 2013 by a user named Augie and consisted of a black man saying in a sing-song tune, “One, two, three, four… How many n*****s are in my store? I know you’re stealing.” On each number the viner displays himself and then each of his friends, and on the last line a white store clerk. The vine was made to display the racial profiling of store clerks toward black adolescents.
The students at Frost, repeating the chant portion that was prior to “I know you’re stealing,” were recorded by another student on the bus. Then that student showed her father, Brandon Long, the video.
Long took to Facebook to express his disappointment with the situation and urged it to be shared, a post that was later taken down once it reached 300,000 views, according to Long. In a YouTube post of the video Long said, “We are concerned parents and this is a real issue… Our daughter only caught the tail end of the chant. The bus driver actually stopped the bus and requested that these children stop.”
Following the incident, the principal of Frost Principal Joey Jones, sent home a letter regarding the issue. He wrote that the students who sang the song were racially diverse, being African American, Latino and Asian, and that their parents were contacted and they will be punished according the MCPS Student Code of Conduct. “While this experience has been upsetting, we will use this as a teachable moment for our community. In the coming days, students, parents, and the community will have an opportunity to discuss issues regarding race and how we can educate each other about our cultures and concerns,” Jones wrote.
He also added that as an African-American educator he found this event disturbing.
Principal Kimberly Boldon agreed with Jones’ idea that this can be made into a teachable moment. “I think we are sometimes too quick to say it’s this and it’s bad, but we don’t really know where it’s coming from and how something like that impacts the whole community, and I think we need to take some time to unravel that,” Boldon said.
Senior Maria Samper is an older sibling to a student at Frost, and reflected on the issue. “When my sister came home, she was more shook up than surprised. It’s not something you ever wish to see, your school becoming infamous overnight but perhaps not something unheard of when it comes to people that are that young. The kids in the video – [who] by all accounts were diverse in race and ethnicity themselves – demonstrate how sparsely race is handled in schools. It is clear that these kids have not been taught properly about race relations and the severity of such language, something I myself didn’t even begin to consider seriously until my sophomore year. And I don’t think that’s a reflection on our local school system, but more on how we treat such topics worldwide. We don’t live in a post-racial society, after all,” Samper said.

 

Sarah Fagan

Profiles Editor