White High School Girls in Arizona Pose With Racist T-Shirts, Post on Social Media
According to some students at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona, the student body was bracing for a race riot Friday.* The reason: six high school girls posed with racist T-shirts and posted the photo on Snapchat social media. Each girl wore a shirt with a letter that, combined, spelled out a common racial slur against blacks. There were also reports of an increased police presence on campus, and of parents being encouraged to pick their children up early from school.**
The seniors were to take a class photo of themselves Friday, and it is a tradition for them to wear T-shirts spelling out messages. The offensive shirts did not make it into the photo.
One student told me that a black student who was the boyfriend of one of the girls tried to defend her during lunch in the cafeteria, ending up in a fist fight with a white student. Another one of the girls has dated a black student. Desert Vista students received threats on Twitter the rest of the day.
The school has had several hostile race-related incidents in the past. Located in the Phoenix suburb Ahwatukee, sarcastically referred to as “All-White-Tukee,” the school has only a few black students.
The consequences will be harsh, as this is likely to make the national news and follow these girls around in the future. It is being reported that one of the girls has already lost a full scholarship to Northern Arizona University and was kicked off the soccer team, where she was the team captain. Parents are calling the school requesting that the girls be suspended or expelled.
One student told me this clique of girls had a reputation for taking photos of people and posting them on social media with cruel comments.
The district was quick to condemn the incident. “I cannot stress enough how upset and absolutely outraged the principal is, the administration is at Desert Vista,” said Jill Hanks in an emailed statement, who is a spokesperson for Tempe Union High School District, which runs Desert Vista. “It is absolutely unacceptable. It will not be tolerated, and we will issue discipline according to our district policies,” said Hanks. An inside source within the school district said off the record that the girls will be suspended for five days, which the school district has not officially confirmed.***
*This has been updated to clarify that students suggested they were bracing for a race riot.
**This has been updated to remove a reference to Phoenix SWAT; students reported seeing them but the administration says this is inaccurate.
***This has been updated to reflect the school district’s position that they have not confirmed the five-day suspension.