Disciplinary Action Taken Against High School Marching Band Members for Spelling Out Racial Slur – Your Black World

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By: Victor Ochieng

It turned out to be a planned prank, which didn’t work out according to plan because no one laughed. Members of the Snellville, Georgia’s Brookwood High School’s marching band are under disciplinary action after they used their instruments to spell out the racial slur “coon” during halftime.

What is more alarming was the fact that the students behind the prank were all minorities, and as a result concerned parents see the need to have more discussions about race and culture.

A Gwinnett the founder of Gwinnett SToPP, a nonprofit advocacy group, Marlyn Tillman, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, “This shows a need for conversations about race. What propelled this? What lack of self-worth must these students have to do this?”

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Essence reports that, “The marching band members who play the sousaphone (an instrument similar to the tuba), arranged themselves to spell out the word “coon” using the instrument covers that are usually used to spell out “Broncos” after the school mascot.”

William Bo Ford Jr., who is Brookwood Principal, sent out a letter to parents and the Brookwood community. In the letter he expressed his disappointment, saying the student’s actions “hurt” him.

Ford wrote in his letter saying, ““As promised, we started an investigation into this matter, and I wanted to share with you our current findings and the steps we are taking with the students who were involved. After extensive interviews with many students, we have determined that three seniors intentionally planned and executed the use of the sousaphone covers to spell out a completely unacceptable, racist term. The fourth student, a junior, who carried one of the letters spelling out the word, appears to have gone along with the plan at the last minute. However, all four of the students knew what was going to happen and knew what they were spelling out during the halftime show.”

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Ford went on to state that the students – two African-Americans, one Asian student and one Hispanic student – were all aware of what the word meant and that it was racist and unacceptable.

Ford went on to add that, ““I am hurt and disappointed in these students and their actions that have stunned our community. As you all know, this is not who we are. Brookwood is proud to be an inclusive and accepting school community. This is a teachable moment for all of us, and students need to be aware that their actions and words have consequences.”

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Whatever prompted the students to take such actions in what they term as a prank, remains unknown. However, what is clear is that racism is becoming an issue for concern, and one that needs to be addressed even with the children in our society. The sooner the issue is tackled in the right way and from the grassroots, the sooner the nation as a whole will become strong and better.


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