October 7th, 2016

On Wednesday, I wrote about another African American high school football player threatened with murder by lynching for the crime of exercising his free speech rights under our Constitution. The day before Monument Mountain Regional High School principal Marianne Young gathered her charges for a New England tradition, the town community meeting.

Heather Bellow, reporting in In wake of lynching threat, Monument principal, students, say school has racial tension, issues for The Edge, writes:

Monument Mountain Regional High School Principal Marianne Young told students at [Tuesday]’s assembly that, in grappling with a recent racist threat and its aftermath at the school, she’s had to do some deep diving within.

“I didn’t get much sleep last night,” she said, adding that her recent comments to the press about the incident, and “decisions,” may not have “represented the school.”

Young didn’t go into details about an incident — still under investigation by the school, local police, and possibly the FBI — in which a white student threatened to lynch an African-American student because, during the national anthem at an away game, he kneeled to protest national police killings of black men.

Young, however, confirmed what up to now was reported as an allegation. “Somebody did, in fact, say a horrific, indefensible racist comment.”

Students were not passive listeners at the assembly.

Student Senate President Teddy Michaels, a senior, addressed the 500-plus student body.

“There are bigots and racists in the world,” Michaels said. “But Monument doesn’t have to be the way the world is out there…we can influence our community by the way we treat others and ourselves.”

He said he didn’t want his fellow students to grow up and “look back…embarrassed” by what went on at the school. He echoed Young: “This is not about individuals — it’s about us all.”

He quoted Michelle Obama: “When they go low, we go high.”

And Michaels spoke to what many in the Monument and general communities have expressed, especially on social media, since the incident came to light.

“There is racial tension at the school; that is undeniable,” he said.

Yes, lately the stories have ripped loose from safe moorings of privilege and the perception that we are a right-thinking Berkshires.

I have to wonder why I haven’t heard of a similar assembly at Brunswick High School.

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