By: Quinn Roberts
“The cops will be involved.” These are the words a vice principal said to me, an innocent biracial student. It was a Wednesday. I just had returned to school after being sick the previous Tuesday. I went to my first two classes. In the beginning of my third class, I was called down to the office. As I walked down the hallway, I thought to myself, “What did I do? What’s happening? But I wasn’t going to trip over it. Maybe it was just another check in with a counselor? As I walked into the office, the vice principal was waiting for me. And I was very confused. He greeted me with a firm handshake. I noticed that he had a stern look on his face. We walked into his office and sat down. He asked me, “Where is his phone?” At this point, I was overwhelmed with confusion. “What are you talking about?” I asked him. He accused me of playing dumb and repeatedly said, “You know what I’m talking about.” So, I repeated myself and said. “I honestly don’t know what you are talking about.” Finally, he explained the situation to me. I was still confused but had a clearer understanding of what he was talking about. He told me that a student’s phone was stolen and my name was brought up when the student reported it stolen on Tuesday. That was the day I was sick and absent from school. I explained that I didn’t know where the phone was and had nothing to do with it. But I could tell that he didn’t really believe in me. He continued to question me a little longer before eventually allowing me go. After arriving back in class, I explained to my closests friends what happened. Apparently, the same thing happened to them. They also were confused about the situation. We decided to just ignore it and continued on with our school lives. Two days went by… Then on Friday, when I thought the whole stolen phone situation was over but guess it wasn’t because I was called down to the office first thing that morning. Once again, I was greeted by the vice principal. He greeted me with the same firm handshake and the same stern look. Though this time, he was with the dean and another man. That’s when he started to tell me that I would have to go to court and the police are going to be involved. I decided to stand up for myself. I said, “I was not present the day the phone went missing. So, how could I have stolen the phone?” The vice principal replied, “Your friends were at school that day and were in the area where the phone was stolen.” After hearing his explanation, I automatically felt targeted and profiled. I told him, “There were plenty of other students in the area from the phone was supposedly stolen. A lot of them were white but not one of them got called down to the office or talked to at all. Meanwhile, my friends and I who are either African American or biracial are getting threatened with suspensions and police officers.” The vice principal also said that if we didn’t bring the phone the next weekend we would be expelled, reported to the police and charged with theft.
The next week, my friends and I asked if we could talk to the vice principal about the whole situation. I told him that several black students’ items such as Air-pods, phones, money and etc… had been stolen and nothing was done at all, no accusations, no threats with expulsions or with criminal charges. I wanted to know why such a big deal was made when the white student’s phone was stolen but nothing was done for my brother and my friends when their items were stolen from them. I didn’t understand why they had a double standard. They even searched our bags and took one of my friends down to the police station. All of this was over a phone that we didn’t have.
It was all so confusing. I felt kind of hurt in a way – that the school I had been attending for almost 3 years was treating me like a criminal.
At school the next week, on Monday nothing happened – no police , no suspensions or anything. I realized that the school was trying to scare us into returning a phone we didn’t have and confessing to a crime we didn’t commit. They were stereotyping and racially profiling us. All that did was add to the conflict between the black and white boy. Unfortunately, there was a fight that started with name calling and eventually turned physical. One student was black and the other, white. They both hit each other and called each other names. However, only the Black student was suspended.
I became very frustrated with how my school was handling things. It was really disappointing and sad. Eventually, the school found out who actually stole the phone. None of my friends were involved. We were let off the hook but didn’t receive any type of apology or “sorry”. This is my true story of racial stereotyping, disparity and how black students are racially profiled and accused. I hope through sharing my experiences that whoever reads it feels inspired to make a change.