‘Students Are Proud to Be Racists’: 16-Year-Old Experiences Racism at Indiana High School, Mom Pulls Her Out Despite White Students Being Suspended

An Indiana mom has says she has pulled her Black daughter out of a private school in Indianapolis after she alleged that students are bullying the teenager because of her race. They claim one of the acts of bigotry was daughter being sent a meme of a hand holding a stem of cotton bolls with a caption that read “when you ask a black girl to prom.”

Local station WISH TV interviewed the pair about their harassment claims and their decision to transfer Gabby Portis, a 15-year-old, from the International School of Indiana, a $22K-per-year language school.

Gabby Portis with her mom (WISHTV Screengrab)
Gabby Portis with her mom (WISHTV Screengrab)

Portis told the station that she’s heard the N-word used at the school and the racism she was experiencing made her look at herself, saying, “I just look in the mirror and be like, ‘I don’t see anything wrong with me.’”

Her mother, Brittany Graves, said that as soon as she was made aware of the incidents, she immediately went to the school’s administration.

She says that the school offered her daughter counseling and she declined, saying, “My daughter doesn’t need counseling.” She also claims the school suspended the offending students but when the suspensions ended the bullying intensified. Gabby claimed she started to receive text messages that made her concerned for her life.

When asked if she thinks that her peers would consider themselves racist, Portis said that they would. “They just walk around saying it proudly,” she affirmed.

She claimed an example of how casual the racism was between students emerged after one student asked Portis for money. A different student replied, “Why would you ask her for some money? She’s Black. Black people don’t have any money.’”

Now, mom has pulled Portis out of school for good, stating that she doesn’t want her child to break down mentally or hurt herself after the racialized bullying. Until the transfer is official, Graves asked the school to allow Gabby to finish out the year through its virtual learning model set up during the coronavirus pandemic.

The administration refused saying that the model is only used for students that stay at home for COVID-related reasons.

The head of the school Elizabeth Head released this statement to the outlet:

“The International School of Indiana (ISI) is an inclusive, diverse, and respectful community. ISI does not tolerate racial intolerance or other discriminatory conduct and takes reports of such alleged misconduct very seriously.

Such reports are investigated promptly and thoroughly in order to gain a complete understanding of what allegedly happened. After investigating, ISI takes firm and appropriate steps to remedy and address any misbehavior. The nature of those steps depends upon the severity of what occurred.”

“As ISI’s policy is that matters concerning students are confidential, the School is unable to provide details of specific situations.”

But the private K-12 school has a student population of approximately 556 students, according to USA School Info. The site also reports that individuals who identify as white make up 70 percent of the student body. Blacks make up a little over 4 percent. Students who identify as mixed-race or who have multiple ethnicities total 12.8 percent of the population. Asians comprise 10 percent of the student body.

Portis’ story mirrors those of other students who have left schools because of racism.

Recently, Atlanta Black Star reported on a Rochester mom that pulled her sixth grader and eleventh grader out of the Pittsford school district in upstate New York.

Victoria Love said in an interview that she and her spouse were tired of their children experiencing racial slurs at a place where they were supposed to be learning.

“My husband and I made the tough decision to remove our students because we felt like five years was long enough,” she said last month. “A lot of the racist incidents do involve Black students, but it’s not only Black students.”

One of the incidents that was filmed and placed on social media was of a white student with a toy gun who claimed that he wanted to kill Black people. Love says that the video frightened people, “The students at that particular high school were scared, and the point of someone making a video like that is to frighten and harm other people.”

Five hours south in New Rochelle, New York, a teen baseball star named Tony Humphrey is leaving his school after he contends that a school staff exhibited racial bigotry toward him by stereotyping him as a thug.

The assistant athletics director Bernard Mahoney asked the student why he was doing track, a sport he signed up for after his baseball season. When the young man said that he wanted to improve his speed, Mahoney stated that Blacks “gained that speed by running from the police.”

Humphrey, who had already accepted an offer to go to Boston College after he graduates, shared that after that incident, he decided to transfer schools.

“I decided to leave, because of my current situation, as I’m already committed. I’m already going to [college],” he shared. “I don’t feel like I have to stay at a program where they’re going to look at me different or feel uncomfortable at a place I have to go to Monday through Friday.”

Humphrey was not alone in his protest. His former classmates, in protest of the teacher, organized a walkout.

The school’s president, Brother Thomas R. Leto confirmed that the teacher has since resigned and added, “Iona Preparatory does not condone for its students and will not accept from its faculty and staff.”

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