‘He Said I Should Hang From A Tree’: 8th Grader Pens Heartbreaking Letter About Racist Harassment At School


We’ve heard repeatedly from the GOP that racism doesn’t exist in America, apparently having ended with Rosa Parks, when in fact it is a daily reality for many in America. Whether they are being beaten half to death by police, strangled by cops, shot on sight by law enforcement, facing racism at school, or taking a verbal beating from conservative politicians, African-Americans would beg to differ with claims that the complex and awful problem of racism is solved in America — particularly this 8th grade boy.

Za’Khari Waddy and his mother have reported numerous instances of racist harassment to Tabb Middle School in Yorktown, Virginia, but they say that the school has utterly failed to step in and do something — anything — about it. Waddy is on the honor roll and is a student athlete, but his mother says he has faced “constant” discrimination at school. In a letter to the school, Zettrona Powell explained:

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Ever since we’ve moved to this area my son has been faced with racism. He’s been asked if he was going to rape or rob a young lady, he’s been pushed into lockers and called a n*gger on numerous occasions.

This was, of course, ignored. After an October 27 incident on a school bus after an away game, Waddy says a white student leveled some horrific racism at him, which was a breaking point. With his mother’s consent, he wrote his own letter to the school outlining his concerns — and it’s heartbreaking:

Yesterday on the football bus coming from our football game a kid … started saying racist things to me. He then started saying he does not like blacks and he told me 200 years ago my ancestors hung from a tree and after he said that I should I hang from a tree. That made me super mad, so in the locker room I told him not to call me n*ggerr or that I should be hung on a tree.

The coaches took me away from the kid because I was really mad and they think I was going to fight him but I want someone to do something about it because I’m tired of boys messing with me because of my skin. I’m at my boiling point with this. Please do something about this because when I bring it to the office/principle you do nothing about it and I’m tired of the racism.

In the two weeks following that incident, Powell says she has met with the principal and has both written and called the school board, only to be told that they’ll look into it. Her son is trapped in the same situation, still surrounded by racist students.

Powell feels these acts of racism have really affected her son:

This has crushed my son’s spirit. When my son got off the bus he threw his backpack, the coaches came in and told him ‘don’t let it get to him.’ How can he not allow this to bother him mentally? This has mentally damaged my son.

Powell wants the students who have been harassing her son to be punished enough that they knock it off, but most importantly, she wants a meeting arranged with their families so she can discuss the issue with them head-on. The school board has not done anything to help with those requests, and has only assured her that “the matter is being investigated.”

Powell is determined to get the situation resolved:

My son deserves the same education everyone else does at the school. I’m not leaving, and they’re going to fix this.


Featured Image via NY Daily News

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