WJ Community needs to address hatred graffiti

Walter+Johnson+was+found+vandalized+the+morning+of+Sunday%2C+October+3.+The+graffiti+included+hate+speech+and+references+to+white+supremacy.

Photo courtesy of Anonymous

Walter Johnson was found vandalized the morning of Sunday, October 3. The graffiti included hate speech and references to white supremacy.

On Sunday, Oct. 3, Walter Johnson and the nearby community were vandalized with “white pride” graffiti and homophobic rhetoric. A couple of hours later, Principal Jennifer Baker sent out an email addressing the issue saying “these actions will not be tolerated”.

When I saw the images I wasn’t sad. I wasn’t hurt. I was angry. How could someone who goes to school with us, someone who is part of our community have this much hatred against people of color and the LGBTQ community? And when I expressed that to my mom, she said, “you think only one person at your school thinks that way?” She is right.

Even when I went to school the next day and a couple of my friends talked about the issue, it was just brushed off, saying, “We live in Bethesda.”

When the January 6 insurrection happened, we spent the next day of school talking about it in almost every class. Teachers asked us how we felt and what questions we had. They asked us how we were going to move forward as a nation. When our school was defaced with racist hatred, no one asked me how I felt or how we are going to move forward as a school community.

Baker only talked about the incident in school two days after it happened on the PA system when period 7 was being dismissed. This announcement was so badly timed as every student was packing up, teachers were assigning homework and no one was paying attention.

The SGA had an even more disappointing reaction. They did nothing. They just reposted a post by WJ Immigration Advocacy Club on their Instagram story. The association that is supposed to represent the student body should’ve been advocating on behalf of students to the administration. They should’ve expressed more care; why is the advertisement of Homecoming and spirit week still being prioritized?

The WJ administration needs to react, even if it is one of those cringey assembly meetings that they do. The students need to feel heard. They need to show the student body that they are at least trying to solve this problem; that they can do more than send out an email filled with spelling mistakes.
Administration: Encourage parents to get involved. Send them a guide about how to discuss white supremacy and homophobia with their children. Help them process their emotions.

On a bigger scale, MCPS should do something. This is the third white supremacist graffiti on MCPS property in a little bit over a year. Walt Whitman High School and Wilson Wims Elementary School were vandalized in June 2020 with racial slurs. MCPS didn’t comment about either.

And 5 days after the incident, social studies classes will be discussing the incident with a presentation in class, hopefully, an authentic one, and a call to action for change that isn’t filled with buzzwords.

It doesn’t matter whether a WJ student committed this crime or not. Hate speech in our community needs to be eliminated with the help of those in charge.

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