A mother in Raleigh, North Carolina, is seeking justice for her 15-year-old son, who says he was the target of a white student’s continued racism and harassment at school. The teen’s story has gained nationwide attention after a video of his altercation with the white student Friday went viral.
Wake Forest High School sophomore Micah Speed is captured in an Instagram video, posted by a fellow student, pulling the white teen to the ground by his backpack. The white student gets up, calls Micah a “black piece of s**t” and walks away. Micah then pulled the student to the ground again. A female faculty member begins reprimanding Micah, warning him not to touch her or he’s in “big trouble,” and telling him the white student only “used words.”
Micah was suspended for 10 days. The other student wasn’t punished at the time.
What the video doesn’t show, however, is the alleged harassment that Micah said led him to his boiling point. Micah told ABC 11 that he endured two months of the student’s racial slurs and degrading comments before the two got into a physical altercation on Friday.
“He threw the N-word around very loosely, said things that I looked like I bathed in coffee beans and dirt,” Micah told the outlet. He said that he reported the harassment to a teacher three times in the past.
Micah told WRAL that the day of the altercation, the student told him that he should “name [his] kids crack head and convict because that’s what they would grow up to be.” But the point that pushed him “over the edge” is when the student showed Micah a video of him shooting a gun and threatened to kill him and his family, he told CBS North Carolina.
Since the video of the altercation went viral, students have been rallying in support of Micah. Someone started a Change.org petition demanding the high school address the “bullying” and “blatant racism.” It’s gotten more than 16,000 signatures as of Tuesday.
On Monday, students protested in the hallways of their school. They chanted, “Bring Micah back.”
Micah’s suspension has been reduced to five days since his story gained traction. His mom, Yolanda Speed, told News & Observer that she was told that the administration decided to punish the white student at that time as well, but she wasn’t given any details. Speed believes the other student was punished because the video went viral.
She told WRAL that although she doesn’t condone fighting, she understands that her son was pushed to a point where he felt he needed to react physically. She also said she wants the teachers and administrators to be held accountable.
“At the end of the day, [Micah] has to take responsibility for what he did, but then when you continue on to have these issues going on in a classroom and it’s not taken care of, that’s my problem,” Speed said.
On Tuesday, the Wake County Public School System issued a statement condemning “racial epithets, slurs and bullying” at the high school, which had 59 percent white students and 24 percent black students last year. It said students who engage in this behavior will be disciplined.
“The incident that occurred last week at Wake Forest High School is alarming and upsetting to our community,” the statement reads. “We strive each day to create a positive learning environment and have encouraged our parents to work with us to learn from this situation.”
Though Micah’s suspension has been reduced, the teen is facing backlash from the video. In addition to worrying about potentially getting kicked off the football team, Micah has received comments online calling him racial slurs and saying that he “deserved to be lynched.”
He posted a few comments on his Instagram page:
The teen told ABC 11 that he wants to emphasize to people who’ve seen the video that his actions were out of character.
“I want to say I’m not a violent person. That’s not who I am ... Everybody who’s known me and that knows me currently knows that I try to avoid confrontation and I usually laugh things off, but I was just pushed over the breaking point,” Micah said.
The Huffington Post reached out to Micah and Wake Forest High School and did not get an immediate response.