EDITORIAL: The problem at Northwest Guilford High School

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It’s repulsive and shocking, and also, somehow, completely unsurprising.

The video showed two Northwest Guilford High School students spewing the worst kind of hateful and racist comments towards all black people, and it went viral by the end of the day Tuesday, culminating with a post on Raw Story, which means it should be on the “Today” show by Thursday morning.

You don’t need to watch it to know what they’re saying: two white boys — for they are indeed boys — shirtless for some reason, dropping the N-word  and threats of lynching with aplomb in Southern accents so thick it sounds like they’re putting us on, hate dripping from their voices as they re-enact the tropes of racial ignorance and unearned privilege. With each despicable exchange they cast themselves as superior by strict virtue of their race.

There were threats of violence, no matter how squealing and inept, a clear espousal of white supremacy, and one of them kept putting his hand in his sweatpants to grab his crotch.

It is disgusting. And it’s the very definition of hate speech: not directed at any black person in particular, but all of them. It’s the sort of talk that got Emmett Till murdered, that fomented the Wilmington Riots, that preceded every lynching and cross-burning in the South’s terrible history of relations between black and white.

There were threats of violence, no matter how squealing and inept, a clear espousal of white supremacy, and one of them kept putting his hand in his sweatpants to grab his crotch.

Now, through widespread dispersion on the internet, the footage has become just another episode of “White People Behaving Badly,” another Picnic Patty or Pool Card Adam. They will have nicknames by the end of the week that will soon be forgotten, along with everything else that’s been coming through this toilet of a news cycle.

But here on the ground in North Carolina, we need to acknowledge that these boys are ours.

Northwest Guilford sits right between Summerfield and Kernersville, and as far as public schools go it’s a fairly wealthy one — just 13 percent of its students are economically disadvantaged. Not incidentally, white students make up 79 percent of the population, while just 7 percent are black.

In response, the entire student body will undergo something called “tolerance training,” while the boys face 10 days of suspension. Surely it is not enough. Because these two morons didn’t happen in a vacuum.

Students, teachers and school administrators have the primary responsibility for maintaining an inclusive, antiracist culture. Northwest parents hold a secondary responsibility.

A meaningful step forward would include them all.

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