A central Indiana school district denounced posts made by one of its students on Snapchat that it called “offensive” and “racially insensitive.”
The story went viral after screen caps of the student’s Snapchat messages about a man wearing a turban surfaced. It happened on a flight bound for Indianapolis.
The student, who is from Eastern Hancock Schools, took several photos of a Sikh man and captioned them. One message said, “Never mind [sic] I might not make it to Indy.” Others were captioned “please god, just let the man sleep” and “update I’m still alive,” implying that the man was a threat to those aboard the plane.
Simran Jeet Singh, a religion professor at San Antonio’s Trinity University, saw the Snapchat photos and shared them on Twitter last week. He wasn’t on the plane, but said the posts show firsthand what minorities face in public. His post on Twitter has received more than 7,400 retweets.
“I’ve experienced racism my entire life — many of us have,” he said in a phone interview with our media partners at the IndyStar. “There are a lot of people out there who don’t experience racism like we do and don’t know what it’s like to be a minority in this country. I saw this as an opportunity, really, to share with people the kinds of things that are out there.”
He hopes raising awareness will make people think twice before making similar posts.
“Anytime anyone who looks like me travels on an airplane, those thoughts are there,” Singh told the newspaper. “I want people to know how people who look like us are treated.”
Eastern Hancock Schools released a statement about the case, saying it was working to address the student’s “unacceptable behavior.”
Here’s the statement:
Eastern Hancock School officials have become aware of offensive, racially insensitive posts on social media recently made by one of our students. Eastern Hancock administrators and staff do not condone, nor can we justify this type of behavior for any reason. As an educational institution, our priority is to prepare students to become successful members of a diverse world community.
Therefore, we are seeking legal advice for avenues to address the student’s unacceptable behavior in accordance with national and state law, and local policy. Making an ugly situation worse, another local student embellished the post with false claims and encouraged public response. We are working with the administrators of that student’s school district for a legal resolution as well.
In this age of social media, it is imperative that educators and parents partner to make our students/children aware of the consequences of a picture or comment. Once information is out in cyberspace it cannot be called back, nor contained. Unfortunately, this incident, which may have been intended to be amusing, is not only deeply offensive, it has done considerable damage to many individuals.