The family of a Black North Carolina student who exposed a racist student group chat is calling for those involved to be punished.
Cenayia Edwards, 14, uncovered racist threats Sept. 26 in a chat involving two students at her East Wake High School in Wendell, North Carolina, and five at Corinth Holders High in the same city, according to The News & Observer.
Her mother, Cecelia Edwards, listed some of the messages during a press conference Thursday:
“‘F the n-word. Kill n-word babies. Pick that cotton you Black son of a B. We do not like n-words in our chat,’ and ‘pulling triggers and shooting the n-words,’ etc.”
Cecelia Edwards said when her daughter and other students called their peers out about their remarks, they responded with a penguin holding a gun and stating “‘shut up the n-word.’”
“Hurt and scared, she called us, requesting that we please come to the school,” the mother said.
The Edwards family told The News & Observer East Wake High Principal Stacey Alston told them he’s not disciplining anyone in the incident, but Johnston County school officials have since said the principal “issued consequences” and notified parents.
County school officials on Thursday told the newspaper federal student privacy laws prevent them from disclosing what those consequences were.
The News & Observer reported that district officials have before revealed when students were disciplined for racist behavior.
Alston, a Black man, condemned the racist messages in a statement to the school community Tuesday and later in a video post Thursday, but he did not detail how the students would be punished.
“I do not condone this type of behavior, nor does East Wake High School or Wake County Public Schools,” Alston said. “This type of behavior is totally unacceptable.”
The administrator said the school will offer “opportunities for constructive dialogue” on race with students, staff members and families in the coming weeks.
“These discussions have the potential to be difficult and emotional,” Alston said in his statement. “But I am confident that we at East Wake High School have the maturity, the wisdom and, most importantly, the strength of character to engage in these conversations with one another thoughtfully and amicably.”
Local activist Kerwin Pittman called out official response to the chat at a news conference Thursday at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Gardens in Raleigh.
“It’s extremely egregious and troubling that the language of killing black babies and shooting black people from students is not taken seriously from school administration,” Pittman said.
He demanded on Twitter that same day that the school’s principal reprimand those involved.
“For his Silence Means Acceptance of Racial Threats made towards his Students & Shows his Incompetence to Lead,” Pittman sad.