A Jerome, Idaho school bus driver has been fired after footage of a disturbing, xenophobic incident was shared online, prompting outrage from parents and students alike.
This weekend, local news outlet KTVB confirmed that driver Mary Black was no longer an employee with the Northside Bus Company, after video of Black pouring water on 8th grader Miguel Martinez was posted on Facebook.
The video, reportedly taken by 9th grader Brayan Alverez, shows Black berating Martinez, who speaks Spanish, at one point telling him, “I don't understand Spanish. I'm not going to learn it. I live in America and it's an English-speaking country. So if you want to speak to me, speak to me in English."
Alverez told the station the incident started when Black approached Martinez and accused the student of throwing a water bottle on the bus. Alverez also claimed Black accused him of egging Martinez on—a charge he denied.
"She tried to take his phone away," Alverez told KTVB. "And when she didn't get to do that, she just grabbed the water bottle and started getting him wet."
Alverez' footage can be seen in KTVB's report:
According to Juan Espino, whose son also rides the bus, this wasn't the first time Black had banned students from speaking Spanish.
A family friend of Alverez, Espino was the one who shared footage of the incident on Facebook, prompting Black's dismissal. Speaking with KTVB, Espino explained that students had told him that, during similar outbursts in the past, Black would simply turn the bus' security cameras off before demanding her passengers speak English. Without video evidence, Espino said his earlier complaints to the bus company were left unresolved; It was only after sharing Alverez' footage that action was taken.
Just months before Black's xenophobic assault on Martinez, the Southern Poverty Law Center published their chilling report on "The Trump Effect"—a phenomenon tied to the racist and bigoted rhetoric of Donald Trump which has produced "an alarming level of fear and anxiety among children of color and [inflamed] racial and ethnic tensions in the classroom."
While it's unclear if Black's actions were specifically motivated by Trump's political bombast or not, they occurred amidst a rising cloud of nativist bigotry—one which has left Latinx students particularly vulnerable to targeted harassment and hate this election season.
Whether or not that cloud will dissipate after November remains to be seen.