Social Question

ArtiqueFox's avatar

They tormented my new friend for being a "mixed blood"? Is there anything I, a student, can do?

Asked by ArtiqueFox (974points) February 26th, 2010

This week, a new student arrived at my high school. She is new in the area and and is from the opposite end of the country. Both of us hit it off pretty well. She excels in English as do I, and we have have a passion for the Arts. She also is skeptical of Twlight (yeah!). We are two happy literature nerds. I do believe it is the start of a beautiful friendship.

BUT…she is Lebanese and Italian, roughly. It shows. Now I myself, don’t care. She’s sweet and fun, and I love hangin’ with her. However, fellow others in the student bodu feel differently. These students rail about “white nationalism” and “evil race mixing,” and other bull****. They name call and leave wet toilet paper in her locker, among other things. It all causes her tears, but she’s timid and just takes it.

Today, they went way to far. It was after lunch break. Of course all high school girls skip to the gossip bathroom after eating, right? Naturally, I stopped there on the way from my locker. There, the “jock-ess” squad was giving her a full blown session of toilet torture. I lost it, and my Alegbra book made contact with the face of their leader….and my big mouth fired several verbal rounds. Of course the “errand girl” of the group fetched their favorite teacher, so I now I face detention on Monday. The drama/cheer squad faces nothing.

My parents sympathize with my cause, but consider my behavior impulsive and rash. My friend says she is grateful, but I may just have made it worse. Her mother blames her for “encouraging” the torture.

Anyway, wise and adultish Flutherites, what do you think I should do in this situation? My new closest friend is being picked on for being a “half-breed”. The school appears to be on the side of the tormentors, and her single parent mom blames her. I’m already off to to a bad start trying to help in this situation (violence is probably not the best course, I realize). Help? It looks like I’m her only defender at the moment…and I’m botching it.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

63 Answers

Bronny's avatar

Oh my god. I have to take a breath and calm down before I can even think logically about how to handle this one. Where is this high school, I think I can handle this myself.

dpworkin's avatar

Where the hell do you live that a Lebanese-Italian is such a rare being?

faye's avatar

I second @dpworkin. Canada is pretty white but she wouldn’t be questioned at all.

Bronny's avatar

Ok- I’m trying to calmly use the process of elimination to figure out what you SHOULDN’T do, since it would seem that an obvious answer of what you SHOULD do is just not coming to me. I’m still on a violent rampage in my head.

I don’t want to give you the generic adult or motherly response of “Turn the other cheek…” or “Tell another teacher!...” right off the bat.

I think you definitely should not hide and definitely should not ignore it.

Also…It will take some adult presence to back you, someone intelligent who will know how to sit down the Principle and get the schools attention with legal action.

ArtiqueFox's avatar

@dpworkin and @faye Montana. I live in a valley that is pretty much white, white and more white. Everything else is rare here, especially a half Italian, half Lebanese individual.

mammal's avatar

…Today, they went way too far…

i think you’re embellishing scenario this or making it up completely.

Bronny's avatar

There is something off. I see in your profile you enjoy writing short stories…so you either played this one up because it is your natural inclination to do so or we are helping you write the next chapter of your latest story. It is just a bit cliche. If this is a deceiving threadline, then you got me.

Either way, this type of injustic to other people just rips me to pieces so it’s probably best I stop following this thread anyhow. I can’t seem to think of any productive and/or positive ways to handle this.

Good luck!

escapedone7's avatar

Bullying happens in school and it is real. I have witnessed similar things. Believe it or not the kids I saw get bullied the absolute worst were the effiminate males. Gay bashing is pretty harsh during the school years. I have seen a lot of bullying. I know it can and does happen. ’

There is not just one single recourse here. It would help if you had more than one friend. There is safety in numbers and you all hanging out in a group would deter them singling her out. She might need to practice being assertive and defending herself. It would help if she could talk to a guidance counselor or one of the teachers that really understands for advice. Her mother should go to the school and demand that something be done or talk to the other parents on the phone. It sounds like her mother isn’t going to help though.

faye's avatar

Montana is more Terry Long than Alberta, wow.. About all you can do is continue standing up against their behavior. There must be other kids in your school that are normal headed.

ArtiqueFox's avatar

@mammal I don’t appreciate you distracting Flutherites from my question. I acted stupidly today, and now my friend may have to pay for that. I want advice here from people who are more level headed then me at the moment.

If you don’t have anything helpful to offer, don’t post. This is a serious issue in my life right now. PM me if you must make remarks.

mammal's avatar

@ArtiqueFox are you a fantasist?

escapedone7's avatar

This is what I would do. Research the laws in your state. Look up the legal definition of hate crime, harassment, discrimination. Turn this into a school project researching what her rights are. Then she should draft a typed letter to the Superintendent of Schools citing her right to a safe learning environment and the failure of the principal to punish the girls in a clearly racial motivated physical attack. Include legal definitions in your letter. Perhaps cite a few legal cases that have set precedent, where schools were successfully sued for failure to provide a safe learning environment.

Another thing I would HIGHLY recommend you do is speak to the school board. This would surprise them to death. School board meetings are supposed to be open to parents teachers and the public. If she showed up for one and demanded to be heard I think that would seriously rock the boat.

She should document every time she is harassed, by whom, and how. She should show this log to the school authorities to show how many times a day she has a problem or confrontation. If nothing is done, she should visit a lawyer herself and ask for a free consultation, with all of her notes and copies of her letters in hand.

faye's avatar

Holy Mother @escapedone7 if she wasn’t getting picked on before, she sure would be if all that happened. She should document everything in case it escalates to physical on their part but don’t encourage her to be any kind of snitch if it’s just verbal.

escapedone7's avatar

She was being attacked in the bathroom and I assume “toilet torture” meant swirlies. And yes, I think she should fight. If she fought back, and was assertive, the whole town might get an education from it. Why not?

davidbetterman's avatar

You either live at the North Pole or the deep South. Repor these actions to your principal.

mammal's avatar

i think we should all calm down and appreciate that the most likely situation is that Artique Fox is a kid with an overactive imagination, or she has exposed the most racist high school in the western world

hug_of_war's avatar

this just reads like a short story, not someone asking for advice with a real problem

mammal's avatar

@hug_of_war thank’s for helping me out with a dose of realism

Arisztid's avatar

Whether or not @ArtiqueFox is a kid with an overreactive imagination or is facing this, this is not an unknown situation. I have heard of this sort of thing today. I shall leave my advice to anyone who happens upon this situation in reality.

Sadly racism is a fact of life and cannot be escaped, including in high school.

The following advice comes from a guy who was one of 7–8 non whites in a high school of 1800:

The more she acknowledges it, the worse it shall get. If she gives the bullies what they want, they shall escalate. A thick skin is required… do not show tears or upset. However, when it becomes physical, you have to deal with it or you get the crap beaten out of you on a regular basis. I do know that girls also have the crap beaten out of them by bullies, not just guys.

This should have been dealt with before it reached this stage. Did she go to her parents, and if she did, what have they done to stop it?

First, she and her parents should go to the proper authorities… the school (teachers and principle on up to the school board). If the principle turns a blind eye, go up the ladder. Sooner or later they shall find someone who has to listen.

If her parents will not deal with it, I would suggest her going to a school counselor and seeing what can be done. Maybe the counselor will speak with her parents.

In my case, my father taught me to fight from an early age so I took care of physical bullying the first time I was bothered in an authoritative enough fashion that it was not repeated. Of course I was the one who got in trouble but it was only once per school.

I would think that, in the case you describe, you should have gotten a teacher to intervene. If one teacher will not, get another, etc.

Jeruba's avatar

I’m a little confused about the issue of being a “half-breed.” Did she go out of her way to announce that she is the product of mixed parentage? From what you say, it does not sound as though they would have been especially hospitable to someone who is 100% Lebanese or 100% Italian either. Are we actually seeing the real issue or are you guessing at the cause for this treatment?

escapedone7's avatar

Do people just not believe bullying happens or that racism never happens, or do people just doubt in this particular story?

I think bullying a common problem in almost every school. Am I the only person here who has witnessed bullying and racism? Did you go to public school?

hug_of_war's avatar

@escapedone7 I strongly believe racism/bullying exists, I went to public school and was one of few black students. It’s how it’s written that seems a bit fishy – it’s a stylized type of writing common in the many young adult books I used to read. Also I find girls will either just physically fight you or more commonly socially outcast you – heck I never knew anyone who had “toilet torture”.

escapedone7's avatar

Not even swirlies? When I was in school a swirlie was when someone pushed another students head into the toilet and flushed it (hence swirling hair , swirlie). Quite a lot more humiliating and aggressive than the more playful “noogie” and “wedgie” which were usually done for play instead of cruelty.

DarkScribe's avatar

Tell everyone that the Italian part is Sicilian and that the Lebanese part is on Bin Laden’s Christmas list and that her family knows where they live. (They are probably not smart enough to know that Christmas isn’t a Muslim issue.)

Just_Justine's avatar

“I lost it, and my Alegbra book made contact with the face of their leader”

Why didn’t you just go “So I went mad and smashed a book in the face of the main idiot spurring them on”.

Arisztid's avatar

One thing I did not mention is that, in some cases I know of, the student has to be pulled from the school to escape racism, usually due to beatings. I am glad that my father prepared me for it and taught me to fight. I did not have to be pulled from any schools. It is also not just against non whites. Whoever is the minority gets it and whites are the minority in some schools.

I went looking to find evidence supporting my statement and I have here . I could find a lot more quite easily.

Jeruba's avatar

@Just_Justine, are you saying that the OP ought to have written in your writing style instead of in her own?

Just_Justine's avatar

@Jeruba no I am saying I would have smashed her in the face.

Cruiser's avatar

You did what you felt was right at that moment…don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise. Don’t think twice the next time people rain down on a friend…KTA!

partyparty's avatar

This is out and out bullying. You and your friend should report this immediately to the school.
The tutors should know your personality is such that you wouldn’t act like this normally, and it was out of sheer frustration that you acted in this way.
Get it reported, because if you don’t, it will just escalate

PandoraBoxx's avatar

How is your friend handling it?

Never assume that those who are in charge really know what’s going on. Even though you want to handle this on your own, there are times when using the system should be employed, and this is one of them, even if you need to remind the principal that this is bullying, and that by telling the administration that this is going on, if something happens to your friend, the principal could be sued for failing to act. The teachers need to handle this by stopping it, and giving the real actors in the situation detention.

@Cruiser, KTA? Really? Encourage kids to treat passive aggressive violence with more violence?

@ArtiqueFox seems to be rather glib; language can be a much more effective weapon. I’m assuming that when you say that she’s Lebanese and Italian, you’re referring to her heritage, and that she moved to Montana from Chicago/Los Angeles/New York, wherever. When comments are made, looking puzzled and saying, “Really? Her family’s from (insert city/state).” It’s almost impossible to not be of “mixed blood” in the US. Everyone is a mixture of English/French/German/Italian/Native American ancestry. Including the tormentors. Sometimes people need to reminded of that. Use logic and language as a tool.

Part of what you are hearing is a reflection of what these girls are taught at home. The world will be a small place for them, and they will never leave home. High school, for them, is going to be as good as life gets.

BoBo1946's avatar

@Arisztid thank you for putting a little “common sense” into the equation. A young person’s world is more complicated than a few realize here. A little compassion goes a long ways with your fellowman.

@ArtiqueFox hang in there my young friend…seems like you are the one with the level head here. Just be a good friend…all that is required. Unfortunely, there are some mean-spirited people in this world. Nice to see a young person like yourself that believe in treating all people with kindness and consideration.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Your heart is in the right place, but your actions are not. Violence is only proper in self-defense. Stand up for your friend, but leave off the hitting. These girls are just grasping for something to criticize. Almost all of us are a mixture of heritages. I’m English/Welsh / German/French and a trace of Algonquin. Keep your defense verbal; if their words are especially bad, bring the authorities in.

ninjacolin's avatar

go back and finish the job.

ninjacolin's avatar

some of you guys are hilarious. you’re complaining because she enjoys a well written question? don’t be silly. she said she likes reading of course she’s picked up on how to write. she shouldn’t be expected to dumb it down just so you can keep up. if you don’t understand it or if you’re jealous of her writing ability, just don’t respond.

a question is a question regardless of how it’s written.

@ArtiqueFox sounds like you’ve made some new enemies. you may want to write an apology to the girl you hit. not one that excuses her for her actions but one that admits your wrong doing and petitions her to consider her own. make sure a copy of this apology is given to your principal or parents.

janbb's avatar

@ArtiqueFox It’s interesting that you are being suspected for too well-written a question, people are usually attacked here for the opposite. I’ve seen your writing on other threads and I know you are very literate.

You are in a pickle. If it were me, I think I would look for support from some sympathetic adult; ideally, a teacher at your school. Don’t worry too much about thedtention, happens occasionally to the best of us. (I was sent to the pricnpal’s office for waering the wrong kind of shorts once.) But it would be useful to have an adult to talk things over with and hopefully guide you and your new friend through some of the shit. I wouldn’t beat myself up too much about the hitting either, it was an intinctive reaction, but see if you can come up with some more workable strategies for the future.

StephK's avatar

I agree with @escapedone7 ; do you research and find out what actions you can take. It may not convince the children you’re going up against, but it WILL convince everyone else.

Apart from helping her with that, what you can do, OP, is to stand up for her as a friend. This isn’t to say you should start physical or verbal altercations, but it does means that you should stick with her. If someone says “____ is dumb”, you don’t say “You’re dumb!”, you say “In my experience, she’s the sweetest person I know.”

I’d venture to say that some of your pupils sympathize with your case. Some might even be bi- or multi- racial themselves but don’t have the skin to show it. Try and find these people and get them behind your cause.

But whatever you do, don’t ignore it. This kind of thing is ignored all too often.

filmfann's avatar

Didn’t these kids see the Harry Potter movies?
I occasionally waste my time working on genealogy, and I will tell you NO ONE is of pure blood from one ethnicity.

CharlieGirl's avatar

Before I joined the internet and began to explore different sites,I had no idea how much racism there was in the world.Now that I know,I feel for you and your friend.I’m sorry that you are going through this.The only suggestion that I have for you is to tell a teacher,head of school,parents,etc. until someone helps you out with this.This kind of behavior should not be tolerated,and any kind of racism should be illegal in my opinion!

Chongalicious's avatar

Let ME go to that damn school and have people try to pick on me for having all this Italian, Hungarian, Cherokee, German, French, Canadian, Turkish, and whatever other blood I have in me! I wouldn’t sit there and just take it! I mean seriously! If this is the U.S. I’m gonna cry. Everyone thinks we’ve come so far but this crap is so stupid, it’s primitive! They all deserve a good textbook to the face followed by a nice ass-kicking.

But unfortunately as you already know, that’ll bring more trouble. So, you go ahead and find some adult in that school, or in your area that’s also a “half-blood” or at least someone who would have some type of authoritative power in the situation and who would be understanding of your dilemma and tell them about it! Get them to complain to the school board. Get this problem into the public eye, somehow! Put those little racist &$(&$^# on the news somehow and expose them for what they really are! They’re breaking the law by doing all that stuff, also. It’s harrassment! And if they’ve laid a single finger on her, it’s assault. They need to be taught a huge lesson.

babaji's avatar

Change what you can, overlook what you have to, Walk away from what you’re able to, and confront what you have to.

thriftymaid's avatar

Be her friend. Sounds like your school has some moronic students.

ChaosCross's avatar

Don’t use violence in any way. Instead, hide a camera with you to school.

Catch them.

Take a picture.

Threaten to show it to the administration.

Problem solved.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

Attempting to discredit an OP to deflect attention from a question that raises an important and real problem of bullying and race-based intolerance in America is shameful.

Giving her the benefit of the doubt and address the issue because it is more important than your attempts to deny the problem.

Nially_Bob's avatar

Your counter-action should reflect the severity of the bullying meaning that striking in response to the situation you describe was absolutely unnecessary, although admittedly understandable.

Initially inform your school Principal, Teachers and Tutors about the matter and continue to do so each time it occurs so as to emphasise the commonity and intensity of the issue. If this does not prove useful after a significant period of time (a few months perhaps) take matters further by reporting such issues to the school board and possibly the police ensuring you have evidence to reinforce your claims. Other than this I would suggest improving upon the confidence of the girl in question (or atleast your confidence so that you may act as a “barrier” of sorts when around her). Additionally try to remain in fairly large groups if possible. Some self-defence training wouldn’t go astray either as, though you certainly shouldn’t inflict serious damage upon another unless absolutely necessary, sometimes quickly bending someones wrist in the wrong direction when they attempt to grab you with ill intent can send a very clear and concise message to back away; the training may also facilitate the aforementioned confidence improvement.

I wish you only the foremost luck with your situation and hope you have a pleasant day.

Arisztid's avatar

I see a lot of people saying that @ArtiqueFox and her friend should stand up for their rights and duke it out physically. I also see that the debate as to the veracity of this question is ongoing. As for that, even if it is not true, this question is a good place to offer advice in such a situation which occurs more often than many like to think about.

First, unless ArtiqueFox and her friend are very good fighters and willing to take authoritative measures to end it, they are going to wind up on the short end, escalating any fighting to the point where physical beatings can occur daily. I did end it via fighting, having been taught to take them out hard and fast the first time I was jumped at any school I went to, knowing that I was going to be the one disciplined. Despite me being “at fault” in these fights, it was worth it to have the rest of my schooldays free from such things.

Facts are facts: being a minority, her friend is going to be behind the 8 ball when any fight is brought to the school’s attention if the teachers, principle, and other school authorities are likewise prejudiced. I grew up in the 70’s and early 80’s but have not heard that it is all that different now. When I was growing up, the punishment, now matter who started it, was usually harsher on the non minorities, often the instigators getting off Scott free.

In the situation ArtiqueFox is discussing, if she can get a teacher to break up the harassment in the toilet rather than her doing so, the situation of bigotry towards her friend is much less likely to escalate. While I applaud ArtiqueFox for standing up for her friend, her actions are more likely to escalate the badgering of her friend. If, in future situations, she gets a teacher to stop it, the bullies are less likely to want to do more of it. Even if the teachers are bigoted against her friend (I do not know if they are), they have to stop things like this.

That being said, if help from the authorities is not available, I say, yes, step in physically if the fight cannot be diffused or otherwise avoided.

The best thing ArtiqueFox can do is be a good friend, stand by in support of her friend, and calmly discourage and counteract racist speech regarding her friend. Getting into a fight over this, physical or not, is going to escalate it. What else ArtiqueFox and her friend can do is document all that occurs. The school board is more likely to act if a pattern is shoved down their throats shown to them to the point where they cannot avoid it.

Seek's avatar

I agree with @Arisztid

I myself was the target of quite a bit of high-school badgering. I was a religious minority – an absurdly conservative form of Christianity – as well as an academic overachiever, and all-around geek.

It didn’t help that I was in Junior year when the Sept. 11th attacks occurred. Then the half-hearted “So, are you Amish or something?” jabs escalated to my being elected “Person Most Likely to Blow Up the School” as a write-in for our Senior Superlatives. I have repressed the comments made about me in the Slam-Books that went around a few times.

What did I do about it? Ah, wrote angry poetry, joined Drama club, spent lunch hours buried in the reference section of the school library playing Magic: The Gathering with the nerdy boys. There was one time (after being driven to tears in the middle of English class), I grabbed a football player by the shirt collar, pushed him against the wall, and screamed at him in Japanese. (I think I said “Aren’t you my brother?” but it sounded angry, and that’s all that mattered) He was so weirded out, he never spoke to me again.

I guess all I can say is – it’s fairly easy to deal with verbal taunts by ignoring it, avoiding the situation, and finding a healthy outlet for the frustration it causes. Escalating the situation to a violent one doesn’t help anyone. And these days, it can get you expelled and arrested, even on a first offense. Not cool.

Arisztid's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr After reading your answer, I need to go take my Geritol with an Ensure and paint racing stripes on my walker.

You point out something that is oft missed… ethnic is not the only minority and the bullying is the same, just based on something else.

It sounds like in some ways things are worse now. At least you did not get arrested in my day. Suspended and that lot…yes.

As for the verbal crap I put up with, I handled it by talking to my father about it, working out (sparring with my father, beating on an old car he used to teach me to hit hard, running, lifting weights, etc), writing, escaping into books, laughing about stereotypes of my people with my friends (I learned to laugh rather than rage), and other such things. I ate lunch with my friends in places other than the cafeteria.

Arisztid's avatar

Err I misstated in the post above the last one.

What I said: “When I was growing up, the punishment, now matter who started it, was usually harsher on the non minorities, often the instigators getting off Scott free.”

What I meant: “When I was growing up, the punishment, now matter who started it, was usually harsher on the minorities, often the instigators getting off Scott free.”

ArtiqueFox's avatar

Thanks everyone. I’ll bring these up to her and we’ll decide.

I would like to point out that since I’ve been into books all my life, I have obviously been influenced by them in the way I think and write. The above is how I write. Look at my past Fluther posts and you will see that. Yes, its different. But its natural.

I also ask you to search my past answers and questions. I’m not the kind that makes up stories to toy with people, or the drama queen type that shoots for the sympathy of crowds. My answers show that.The topics of my questions are motivated by curiosity, or even fear at times, not attention seeking.

If you are going to make conclusions about me, base it of my entire history here, not just one question. Base if off of my character, not my writing style.

janbb's avatar

@ArtiqueFox Good for you!

Cruiser's avatar

@PandoraBoxx I understand you calling me out for my comment about KTA to defend a friend…but you did point out the element of the “jock-ess” squad giving a lesson in modern plumbing to this girl as you characterized as “passive aggressive” behavior as if that is OK!?? I am sorry but passive aggressive behavior is of the most insidious kind in that kids think they can push the envelope of outwardly demeaning acts and claim no physical violence was used it was only “kid stuff” meanwhile a persons entire wholeness and self esteem is tromped on for the thrill of the moment of being cool around your peers while the victims swallows toilet water!!? A good Kick in the A$$ and a swirly for each and every one of those kids in attendance at that hazing would give them a reason to think twice the next time some moron says humiliating another human would be fun!

mattbrowne's avatar

If you take 55 chimps you will find that they’re genetically more different from each other than you are to any other of the 6,806,002,638 persons in the world. All humans are almost identical when looking at genomes. The notion of “breed” or “mixed blood” is more or less irrelevant. Most of the significant human differences come from culture.

DarkScribe's avatar

@mattbrowne If you take 55 chimps you will find that they’re genetically more different from each other than you are

I was going to test that theory but I could only find fifty-four chimps. (I looked into the Senate Committee room for some more but they had all gone home.)

Dr_Dredd's avatar

@DarkScribe Try across the hall in the House. If not, I’m sure you can find some at a lobbying firm.

mammal's avatar

think you all are being a teeny weeny bit gullible

mattbrowne's avatar

@DarkScribe – Are you a member of the Senate Committee? Just wondering ;-)

DarkScribe's avatar

@mattbrowne Are you a member of the Senate Committee? Just wondering ;-)

Not likely, although in the eighties I was approached by a well known senator to run for a “sure” seat with his party. I refused without having to think about it. Maybe I should not have. I spent several years as a journalist in Parliament House in Canberra, hence my regard/disregard for the Senate and familiarity with a number of politicians. It was a time of upheaval and some outrageous events in Australian politics.

mattbrowne's avatar

@DarkScribe – I think the Australian politicians are really doing an excellent job taking the climate change issue very seriously!

DarkScribe's avatar

@mattbrowne I think the Australian politicians are really doing an excellent job taking the climate change issue very seriously!

They are doing a good job of making people think that they are taking it seriously. Most who aren’t in opposition seem to be skeptics at heart.

Answer this question




to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther