Grosse Pointe, Michigan, is reeling this week after video of several local high schoolers making wildly racist remarks was posted online. In the video, which can be found on YouYube, the white teens discuss enslaving black people and sending them "back to Africa."
"Okay, so what are you gonna do to 'em in 2040?" one student can be heard asking off camera.
"Oh, haha," answers another. "Segregate!"
"How're they gonna be treated?" that student is asked.
"Awful" he replies. "White people are going to be the dominants of the country."
Later, the same person is shown describing hypothetical plans to brand black people with "those burning things" and trade them for alcohol. The teen appears visibly drunk.
"We're not gonna put 'em in coffins," he concludes. "We're gonna put them in the river."
It is believed that several of the teens depicted in the video are students at Grosse Pointe South High School. In an emailed statement to The Detroit News, Principal Moussa Hamka writes:
I am confident that this incident will provide South the opportunity to stand with a united voice of love and acceptance for all. We will continue to demonstrate that the majority of our students and community members do not accept and will not tolerate such bigotry.
Shocking as the footage has proven to be, it is not an isolated incident. Earlier this Spring, a group of white Grosse Pointe teens were reportedly photographed with the word "nigger" written across their stomachs. Those students were subsequently suspended for several days. In the wake of that scandal, South senior Miracle Bailey, president of the school's Black Awareness Society for Education, told the Detroit Free Press:
I did speak with my principal today and they did apologize and we're looking forward to fixing this so it doesn't happen in the future. There's not much we can do in such a little time frame this year but we're looking next year to have open discussion or panel. We're hoping to live in racial harmony and unity so this doesn't happen again. The entire Grosse Pointe community isn't racist. This is just one incident that occurred.
In light of this latest instance of recorded racism, Grosse Pointe Schools superintendent Gary Niehaus has pledged appropriate disciplinary action against the students involved, all of whom have since been identified. He also tells the local Fox news affiliate that he plans to hold weekly discussions with the Black Awareness group.
While it might be easy to write off both of these incidents simply as shitty teenage behavior, it's worth remembering the context in which they took place: of the five cities that comprise the larger Grosse Pointe area, only one—Grosse Pointe Park—was less than 90% caucasian, according to the 2010 census. This, despite being just minutes away from downtown Detroit, with a population that's over 80% African American. What's more, Grosse Pointe has long been held as one of the quintessential "wealthy suburbs," where medium household income soars into the triple digits.
"There must be a recognition on the part of everybody in this nation that America is still a racist country," Martin Luther King told an audience back in 1968. "Now however unpleasant that sounds, it is the truth. And we will never solve the problem of racism until there is a recognition of the fact that racism still stands at the center of so much of our nation and we must see racism for what it is."
He was speaking to Grosse Point High School.