WARNING: screenshots of racial and misogynistic slurs
A walk out in solidarity and support of the Asian students at Centennial High School took place last Monday after Elaina Yang made an Instagram post of screenshots from a group chat spewing anti-Asian, racist, misogynist and ableist slurs at her.
The Instagram post now has over fifteen thousand likes and hundreds of comments.
The boys made comments about Yang's father going back to Hong Kong and mocking his English, as well as calling Yang 'useless.'
Yang captioned the post:
"i want to bring awareness to this situation and how prevalent harassment and racial slurs are happening at centennial high school."
"i'm coming forward with this because i know other people are experiencing this as well and i am hoping that other people seeing this will allow us to make change."
"it would mean a lot if people could use their voice and repost this so it can bring awareness and so the school understands that this is a real issue that needs to be seriously dealt with."
That is exactly what this post did.
Many people commented with support, empathy and even their own experiences at Centennial High School.
A walkout was planned in response to the online harassment.
Monday morning, students, parents and the general public came together with signs reading "We Demand Change" and "Silence is Violence" to speak out about the racism happening in their school.
Students posted photographs from the event on their social media.
This was not the first time students came together in the the wake of racial injustice.
In the summer of 2020, the student lead group Centennial Students for Change marched for Black Lives Matter after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. At the rally, many students spoke up on their experiences and why they needed to rally together.
Community member Kris Jacobs-Andresen said:
"We need racial justice, and we need equity and equality also. I hope that people in the suburbs will see that there is a lot of support for Black lives."
"I want people of color to feel comfortable and secure in Lino Lakes and Centerville and this whole area. I see a slowly growing minority, and I want them to come in knowing that they are safe and respected."
Ohana, a student at Centennial High School said:
"Centennial is predominately White. Centennial is predominately rich and privileged, and I hate to say it, but Centennial is predominately racist."
"There have been countless racist incidents at Centennial with no repercussions."
After the school heard of the sit-in on Monday, they released a statement about what they have already done to address racism and what they will do in the future. It called for open dialogue with students, administration and other organizations creating change.
The school stated:
"Our work ahead needs to change the narrative—in the school district, in our schools, in the community—and adhere to our mission to empower all learners with voice, knowledge, and skills necessary for success in the 21st Century."
"Students deserve to feel safe and belong in an environment where their voices are heard. We recognize our BIPOC students are not feeling that way."
"We will work on this proactively and collaboratively with them and our partners to improve the environment."
In an interview with WCCO 4 News, Elaina Yang said she hopes the actions taken by the students and school will lead to safety for all.
Reports did not say if the boys involved faced any official consequences for their online harassment.