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Students react to Black student writing racist messages on bathroom wall

<i>KMOV</i><br/>Shayneisha Allen
Shayneisha Allen

By Caroline Hecker

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    ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — Two students who took part in Parkway Central High School’s walkout last week said they weren’t focused on the skin tone of the person responsible, after it has been discovered a Black student confessed to writing racist graffiti found in a boys’ bathroom.

“I wasn’t really focused on the skin tone of the person, I was focused on the fact that some child has that much hate,” said Shayneisha Allen, a sophomore at Central.

Allen took part in Wednesday’s walkout, telling administrators she doesn’t feel safe walking the halls of her school, afraid for her safety.

“I don’t feel safe at the school because I constantly have to look around and look back to see if someone is going to say something about me,” she said.

Allen and several other students said racist incidents are a regular occurrence at Parkway Central.

“I think the ability for students to so wholeheartedly believe that what had happened wasn’t surprising, regardless of it being a Black student, is something that shows Parkway’s character based on what’s been happening,” said Avery Adams, a senior who helped organize the walkout.

According to the district, in 2017, a Black student admitted to writing “White Lives Matter” on a bathroom mirror. In 2019, three female students, one of which attended Parkway, uploaded a video to social media laced with racial comments. In May of this year, a student uploaded a photo to social media after writing a racial slur on her stomach.

When asked if she thought the reaction would have been different had the student been white, Adams said yes.

“I think the district thinks because it was a Black student this event is over or this event doesn’t matter, but I don’t think that’s true,” she said.

Students said they want to see accountability and hope the district will pass an updated policy addressing issues of racism, discrimination and harassment.

On Wednesday evening, the Parkway School Board met for the first time since the incidents at both Parkway Central and Parkway North High School.

Dr. Keith Marty, Superintendent of Parkway Schools, read a prepared statement, which said in part, “we must hold anyone accountable, regardless of their race, for inciting divisiveness such as what we witnessed last week.”

Additionally, a new policy was introduced for a first reading, aimed at “educational equity.” In part, the policy reads, “appropriate revisions will be made to policies and practices such that equity for all students will be an apparent, defining feature. If appropriate, practices or policies may be revised or eliminated in order to produce equitable opportunities for all students.”

District officials said the investigation into the racist graffiti found at Parkway North High School last week is ongoing.

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