A Racial Slur, A Viral Video, And A Reckoning – White High School Student Mimi Groves Withdrew From Chosen College After Three-Second Video Causes Uproar; Classmate Who Shared It Publicly Has No Regrets

LEESBURG, Va. — Jimmy Galligan was in history class last school year when his phone buzzed with a message. Once he clicked on it, he found a three-second video of a white classmate looking into the camera and uttering an anti-Black racial slur.

The slur, he said, was regularly hurled in classrooms and hallways throughout his years in the Loudoun County school district. He had brought the issue up to teachers and administrators but, much to his anger and frustration, his complaints had gone nowhere.

So he held on to the video, which was sent to him by a friend, and made a decision that would ricochet across Leesburg, Va., a town named for an ancestor of the Confederate general Robert E. Lee and whose school system had fought an order to desegregate for more than a decade after the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling.

“I wanted to get her where she would understand the severity of that word,” Mr. Galligan, 18, whose mother is Black and father is white, said of the classmate who uttered the slur, Mimi Groves. He tucked the video away, deciding to post it publicly when the time was right.

Ms. Groves had originally sent the video, in which she looked into the camera and said, “I can drive,” followed by the slur, to a friend on Snapchat in 2016, when she was a freshman and had just gotten her learner’s permit. It later circulated among some students at Heritage High School, which she and Mr. Galligan attended, but did not cause much of a stir.

Mr. Galligan had not seen the video before receiving it last school year, when he and Ms. Groves were seniors. By then, she was a varsity cheer captain who dreamed of attending the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, whose cheer team was the reigning national champion. When she made the team in May, her parents celebrated with a cake and orange balloons, the university’s official color.

The next month, as protests were sweeping the nation after the police killing of George Floyd, Ms. Groves, in a public Instagram post, urged people to “protest, donate, sign a petition, rally, do something” in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

“You have the audacity to post this, after saying the N-word,” responded someone whom Ms. Groves said she did not know.

Her alarm at the stranger’s comment turned to panic as friends began calling, directing her to the source of a brewing social media furor. Mr. Galligan, who had waited until Ms. Groves had chosen a college, had publicly posted the video that afternoon. Within hours, it had been shared to Snapchat, TikTok and Twitter, where furious calls mounted for the University of Tennessee to revoke its admission offer.

By that June evening, about a week after Mr. Floyd’s killing, teenagers across the country had begun leveraging social media to call out their peers for racist behavior. Some students set up anonymous pages on Instagram devoted to holding classmates accountable, including in Loudoun County.

The consequences were swift. Over the next two days, Ms. Groves was removed from the university’s cheer team. She then withdrew from the school under pressure from admissions officials, who told her they had received hundreds of emails and phone calls from outraged alumni, students and the public.

The use of the slur by a Heritage High School student was not shocking, many said. The surprise, instead, was that Ms. Groves was being punished for behavior that had long been tolerated.

Leesburg, the county seat of Loudoun County, lies just across the Potomac River from Maryland, about an hour’s drive from Washington. It was the site of an early Civil War battle, and slave auctions were once held on the courthouse grounds, where a statue of a Confederate soldier stood for more than a century until it was removed in July.

Mr. Galligan recalled being mocked with a racial slur by students and getting laughed at by a white classmate after their senior-year English teacher played an audio recording of the 1902 novella “Heart of Darkness” that contained the slur.

During that school year, Mr. Galligan said, the same student made threatening comments about Muslims in an Instagram video. Mr. Galligan showed the clip to the school principal, who declined to take action, citing free speech and the fact that the offensive behavior took place outside school. “I just felt so hopeless,” Mr. Galligan recalled.

For the University of Tennessee, the outrage over Ms. Groves followed a string of negative publicity over racist incidents at its flagship campus in Knoxville. Last year, Snapchat photos of students wearing blackface and mocking the Black Lives Matter movement went viral, shortly after a student was suspended by her sorority for referring to Black people with a racial slur in an online video. In 2018, swastikas and other hateful messages were painted on campus, months after white supremacists hosted an event during Black History Month.

Public universities are limited in their ability to expel students for offensive language. They have more leeway with incoming students, who are not yet enrolled, though many state schools try to avoid officially revoking admissions offers over speech issues.

The day after the video went viral, Ms. Groves tried to defend herself in tense calls with the university. But the athletics department swiftly removed Ms. Groves from the cheer team. And then came the call in which admissions officials began trying to persuade her to withdraw, saying they feared she would not feel comfortable on campus.

Ms. Groves’s parents, who said their daughter was being targeted by a social media “mob” for a mistake she made as an adolescent, urged university officials to assess her character by speaking with her high school and cheer coaches. Instead, admissions officials gave her an ultimatum: withdraw or the university would rescind her offer of admission.

In the months since Mr. Galligan posted the video, he has begun his freshman year at Vanguard University in California and Ms. Groves has enrolled in online classes at a nearby community college. Though they had been friendly earlier in high school, they have not spoken about the video or the fallout.

At home, Ms. Groves’s bedroom is festooned by a collection of cheer trophies, medals and a set of red pompoms — reminders of what could have been. Her despair has given way to resignation. “I’ve learned how quickly social media can take something they know very little about, twist the truth and potentially ruin somebody’s life,” she said.

For his role, Mr. Galligan said he had no regrets. “If I never posted that video, nothing would have ever happened,” he said. And because the internet never forgets, the clip will always be available to watch.

“I’m going to remind myself, you started something,” he said with satisfaction. “You taught someone a lesson.”

Source: NY Times

Mississippi Approves New Flag Design – Had Been The Last State In The Country To Feature An Image Of The Confederate Battle Flag

The new design, which includes a magnolia blossom, was selected by a state commission in September to be put on the November ballot. The final decision came down to the magnolia image and the “Great River Flag,” which featured a shield with white and red stripes and a symbol representing the Mississippi River.

The flag featuring Confederate imagery was officially retired in June after protests against racial injustice and police brutality led numerous states to reckon with the history behind such symbols.

“Our flag should reflect the beauty and good in all of us. It should represent a state that deserves a positive image,” Rocky Vaughan, designer of the magnolia flag, said in a statement in September.

“The New Magnolia Flag represents the warmth and strength of the good people of Mississippi. Now is the time we show the world that we’re from Mississippi, the Magnolia State,” he added.

Source: The Hill

Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans Are at an ‘Alarming Level’, UN Says

Experts from the United Nations (UN) formally expressed concerns about the growing number of attacks against Asian Americans amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the alleged lack of measures from authorities to combat them.

The experts, appointed by the Human Rights Council (HRC), serve as rapporteurs on (1) contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; (2) human rights of migrants; and (3) discrimination against women and girls.

“Racially motivated violence and other incidents against Asian-Americans have reached an alarming level across the United States since the outbreak of COVID19,” experts continued.

These included vandalism, verbal harassment, physical attacks, and refusal of service and access.

Verbal harassment comprised the majority of the incidents. Victims reportedly heard profanities such as “f**ing Chinese,” “die ch*nk die,” “yellow n*****” and “go back to China, b**ch!”

The group also cited the alleged link between President Donald Trump’s anti-China rhetoric and the surge in hate incidents. They noted that his actions have been “seemingly legitimizing” the phenomenon.

Trump has used controversial terms to refer to COVID-19, including “Chinese Virus,” “China Virus,” “China Plague,” “Wuhan Virus,” “Kung Flu.” The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the UN, has long opposed the use of such terms.

“Don’t attach locations or ethnicity to the disease, this is not a ‘Wuhan Virus,’ ‘Chinese Virus’ or ‘Asian Virus.’ The official name for the disease [COVID-19] was deliberately chosen to avoid stigmatization,” the agency said in March.

Congress has since introduced bills (House of RepresentativesSenate) condemning all forms of anti-Asian sentiment. The House passed its version by Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) last month, which led to attacks against the official herself.

80-Year-Old Vietnamese Canadian Grandma Hit With Rocks and Temporarily Blinded By Teens

Horrible night: On Aug. 20, between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m., Doan was home alone when an aggressive banging at her door riled her dog into barking. She thought her dog wanted to go outside, so she leashed him and opened the door. What was waiting for her were five teenage boys who hurled eggs, rocks, racial slurs and curses, according to her granddaughter Cindy Tran to Ottawa Citizen.

  • Doan doesn’t speak or understand much English but she made out snippets of what she could: “F**k you, f**k, f**k, f**k,” the teens said.
  • After that, the teens started egging her house. One of them, believed to be between 15 to 17 years old, chucked a rock at her face, striking her left cheekbone and bruising her eye, according to the Pembroke Observer.
  • Tran said that this caused her grandmother’s eye to swell and “[rendered] her blind for a few hours.”
  • As Doan stumbled back into her house, she called out saying “Help me. Somebody help me,” in broken English, hoping her neighbors would hear.

Police search: Shortly after the incident, roughly 10:30 p.m. that day, Doan’s grandchildren, including Tran, arrived to take her to the Pembroke Regional Hospital and speak with the Ontario Provincial Police officers (OPP) until 4 a.m. about the assault. Tran said an OPP officer called her and confirmed that the neighbors heard racial slurs directed at her grandmother.

  • The teens allegedly returned two more times after the initial attack to egg Doan’s house just two days after.
  • According to CBC News, in the third instance, “one of the young people was seen yelling and banging on the door.”
  • The OPP are investigating this case and looking for “four individuals…between 15 and 17 years of age,” who were, at the time, wearing shorts and baseball caps and known to “travel on bicycles.”
  • The investigators are especially interested to hear from those from the Isabella Street area, with home surveillance footage, from Aug. 20 and 22.
  • Tran told NextShark, the OPP said, “The investigation is ongoing and progressions have been made.”

Tran’s comments: As one of the few Asian families to grow up in Pembroke, Tran and her family are no strangers to microaggressions and racial slurs. Although it isn’t the first, she said “This has been the most extreme case of racism and discrimination our family has been subjected to.” Tran currently pursues her Master’s of Journalism at Carleton University with a focus on advocacy journalism for marginalized communities; this incident further solidifying her thoughts on how racism is still so prevalent.

Source: NextShark

KFC Trinidad apologizes for ‘insensitive’ Emancipation Day artwork

The post, published on its social media pages on Saturday, was captioned “KFC wishes you a happy Emancipation Day”, however, the imagery was what triggered a wave of criticism as several Trinidadians viewed it as insensitive.

The artwork, which has since been deleted, depicted KFC’s famous spicy chicken drumstick, with the silhouette of what appeared to be a hand in the background displaying the black power gesture.

Several hours later, KFC TT returned with another graphic, one filled with balloons accompanied by a caption which wrote, “Happy Emancipation Day (sic) On August 1, 1985, Trinidad & Togabo became the first country in the world to declare a national holiday to commemorate the abolition of slavery.”

Source: Buzz Caribbean

Trader Joe’s to discontinue ethnic-sounding names (“Trader Ming’s,” “Trader José,” “Trader Giotto’s) on international food products considered ‘racist branding and packaging’

The label perpetuate harmful stereotypes, according to the social media campaign. “The Trader Joe’s branding is racist because it exoticizes other cultures — it presents ‘Joe’ as the default ‘normal’ and the other characters falling outside of it — they are ‘Arabian Joe,’ ‘Trader José’ and ‘Trader Joe San,’ the petition states.

The petition added, “The common thread between all of these transgressions is the perpetuation of exoticism, the goal of which is not to appreciate other cultures, but to further other and distance them from the perceived ‘normal’.”

“While this approach to product naming may have been rooted in a lighthearted attempt at inclusiveness, we recognize that it may now have the opposite effect — one that is contrary to the welcoming, rewarding customer experience we strive to create every day,” company spokeswoman Kenya Friend-Daniel said.

Source: CBS News

Digital marketing firm president and CEO Jason Wood (Actionable Insights) says he ‘got hammered’ when mocking bartender and calling her a racial slur

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Wood, president and CEO of the digital marketing firm Actionable Insights, called Out of the Barrel bartender Rebecca Hernandez a “Sand (expletive) mother (expletive).”

Hernandez wrote on social media that she started video recording the incident because she felt uncomfortable and unsafe and “tasked with filming our own abuse to prove that it actually happened.” She posted the video with her comments on social media.

In a telephone interview Wednesday with The Bee, Wood admitted that he was drunk at the bar and expressed remorse for his behavior.

The video shows Wood apparently mocking Hernandez’s voice.

After Hernandez is heard making a phone call to request someone to come to the restaurant, Wood says: “I’m leaving. Don’t worry about me. Don’t worry about me, Saudi Arabia.”

When Hernandez asks what Wood said and if she was called Saudi Arabian, Wood replies: “You’re (expletive) stupid like they are.”

Source: The Fresno Bee

Cal State University East Bay (CSUEB) & Laney College Professor Matthew Hubbard Placed on Leave For Mocking Vietnamese Student’s Name and Telling Her to ‘Anglicize’ it to Accommodate Him

Laney College in Oakland confirmed that they are aware of allegations of “racist and xenophobic messages” from one of their faculty members about the pronunciation of a student’s name.

According to an email chain, which was later posted onto social media, professor Matthew Hubbard had asked student Phuc Bui Diem Nguyen to change her name as it “sounds like an insult” in English.

“Your name in English sounds like F**k Boy,” Hubbard adds. “If I lived i Vietnam and my name in your language sounded like Eat a D**k, I would change it to avoid embarrassment both on my part and on the part of the people who had to say it.

“I understand you are offended, but you need to understand your name is an offensive sound in my language.”

The emails were posted onto Instagram by the student’s sister along with a video of the professor only referring to the student as P Nguyen.

“As a professor, he should be trying to learn her name and culture and not try to white wash her name. My sister graduated high school thinking she can finally be able to use her name.

“I love that my parents want to keep my culture alive by keeping our Vietnamese name. If you can’t say it then ask.”

Source: Newsweek