Racist vandalism reported at Whitman

Last+weekend%2C+someone+spray+painted+racist+graffiti+on+Whitman+school+grounds.+Police+are+currently+investigating+the+incident%2C+according+to+an+email+from+Principal+Robert+Dodd.

Anna Yuan

Last weekend, someone spray painted racist graffiti on Whitman school grounds. Police are currently investigating the incident, according to an email from Principal Robert Dodd.

By Taylor Haber

Racist graffiti was spray painted on Whitman school grounds over the weekend, including the n-word and a depiction of a noose, according to sources familiar with the matter. A building service member painted over the hateful messages early Monday morning to prevent students from seeing the graffiti.

According to a morning email to the community from Principal Robert Dodd, Montgomery County police are currently investigating the incident. If the police find that Whitman students were involved, those students will receive “serious school-based consequences and may face additional charges from Montgomery County Police,” Dodd wrote.

“I want to emphasize as strongly as possible that hate crimes will not be tolerated in the Walt Whitman High School community,” he wrote.

This was one of several recent incidents involving hateful graffiti in Maryland schools. In 2018, four students at Glenelg High School in Howard County were charged with hate crimes after painting swastikas and racial slurs on school grounds as a senior prank. This February, Salisbury University on the Eastern Shore cancelled classes after discovering racist graffiti on campus that threatened black students with lynching.

Many students aren’t surprised by the incident. Junior Brian Knighton called the perpetrator’s actions “stupid,” commenting on the fact that this is the second act of hate to occur at Whitman in two school years.

After Dodd made an announcement about the graffiti, several teachers took a moment to reflect with their classes.

“I had a talk with my third period class about standing up and making sure to stop the hatred,” physics teacher Allison Hayes said. “I know it’s really difficult, but it starts with each and every one of you.”

At the start of the school year, Whitman administrators implemented the OneWhitman initiative, where students meet in their homeroom for 45 minutes every Wednesday to have discussions surrounding race and equity. In response to last weekend’s incident, this week’s OneWhitman period will give students the opportunity to “discuss how hate speech in the community continues to impact our school,” Dodd wrote in the same email.

Upon hearing of the incident, counselor Shalewa Hardaway, the sponsor of Whitman’s Black Student Union, reflected on her own encounters with racism and her experiences as an African-American educator.

“I grew up in a predominantly white neighborhood as a child, and that word I have seen before,” Hardaway said. “It’s not the first time. I’m not going to sound like it doesn’t matter, because it does.”