Two African American parents are worried about their daughter’s safety after she exposed a racist group chat at her North Carolina High School.
Cecelia Pope Edwards and her husband, Corderro Edwards, are speaking out and seeking reassurance that their 14-year-old daughter Cenayia Edwards will be safe at school.
According to ABC11 WTVD, Cenayia just resumed her first year at East Wake High School, and things have already gotten off to a scary start.
Someone holding a phone | Photo: Shutterstock
It all started after one of Cenayia’s white friends told her some of the other students created a group chat where they were having racist conversations.
"I was like, 'Add me to it,' because I wanted to see what they were talking about," Cenayia told the station. "And I wanted to have proof that they were talking about this."
"The principal is still investigating. It appears that most of the students are from Johnston County, which means the investigation is more complex."
To blend in, the teenager changed her profile picture to a white face and was confronted with one of the most shocking discoveries of her life.
The chat thread was reportedly filled with derogatory and threatening messages directed at African American people, including the use of an offensive term that was popularized in the era of slavery.
According to the report, one person wrote: "#bring slavery back," while another wondered if their screen name should be "Black slayer."
Cenayia couldn’t stand the blatant racism and called out her classmates on their appalling behavior. What came next was even more shocking: someone replied with the meme of a penguin holding a gun, along with the words "Shut up [expletive]."
Cecelia expressed concern over her daughter’s safety, especially as the high schooler is already showing signs of being victimized. The concerned mom's fears are not unfounded.
A recent study, per CBS News, established that suicide attempts are increasing at an alarming rate among African American children and teens. Two experts on the research team suggest that the stress from "increased exposure to racism" might be a factor.
"It's very scary," Cecelia said. "It made me feel uncomfortable because I'm not sure what my daughter's up against."
"We're getting text messages from (Cenayia) being upset while she should be studying in her Honors English class about kids laughing because they think using these words or saying that they're 'gonna kill black kids' and 'if it ain't white it ain't right'; 'if it ain't white, burn it.'"
Corderro said they notified the school administration of their daughter’s situation, but when they did not get a response, ABC 11 reached out to the school district on their behalf.
"The principal is still investigating," a spokesperson for the Wake County Public School System said in a statement to the outlet. "It appears that most of the students are from Johnston County, which means the investigation is more complex."
A spokesperson for Johnston County Public Schools also said they "are aware and looking into the matter."
In the meantime, Cenayia is reportedly not planning to stop speaking up against the racism she was confronted with at school.
"I'm going to allow my daughter to be heard. My daughter's not going be quiet," Corderro maintained.
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