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Rectifying Racial Tensions in Howard County

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Hundreds of people packed an auditorium in Howard County Tuesday night to have some candid discussions after several racist incidents involving high schoolers.

Howard County prides itself on diversity. So this is not the type of situation they’re proud of, and hundreds took a stand against what’s been happening in their backyard to condemn recent incidents of racism in it’s schools.

“I personally feel disappointed,” said student Yasmine Allen.

“I just think that a lot of the things that they talk about, they don’t really think before they say and I think that’s a problem,” said student Jake Shindel.

The school system has been grappling with offensive posts on social media for months. A Mount Hebron student’s racist tirade went viral. At Atholton High in Columbia, a student posted a picture in blackface and used a racial slur.

Over at River Hill High in Clarksville, another incident where a student posted an image of a gun and racial slur.

Earlier this month, students at Oakland Mills High School staged a walk out in protest. Some said they didn’t feel safe after a fellow class mate posted a note online using the “N” word.

For the incidents where students were the perpetrators, Congressman Elijah Cummings said there is hope.

“What we try to do is give them some lessons about things we wished we knew when we were their age and hope that they will grab a hold of that and take it into their classrooms,” said Cummings.

As the community tries to counteract the offensive rhetoric online, parents are calling on other parents to do a better job.

“It’s easy to hide behind social media,” said parent Sharon Barnes.

“Too often when we ignore them, social media grabs hold and they get other messages from society that I think sometimes are pretty negative,” said parent Kevin Shindel.

Several community groups including church leaders and rabbis organized the event. Their main priority was just to listen to people’s concerns.

Some have been pushing for details on the consequences the students who used racists slurs will face, but because of privacy restrictions, the school system is not allowed to reveal that information.

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