Two racist incidents in MCPS spark discourse


Photo Courtesy of Montgomery County Public Schools Media

Incidents of hate speech occurred at both Walter Johnson high school and Sherwood high school.

Charlyn Chu, Social Justice Writer

Graffiti referencing white pride, targeting the LGBTQ community, and containing hate speech was sprayed on the walls of Walter Johnson last week. This act of not only vandalism, but clear racism and hate towards certain groups, has made many feel unsafe. 

“We are very mindful of how such actions may evoke fear and anger and we have worked quickly to cover the images,” WJ principal Jennifer Baker wrote in a letter sent out to families. 

This incident of racial vandalism is not the first in Montgomery County. Back in 2017, Richard Montgomery even had a similar incident. Staff had found messages like “white power” and the n-word written on the whiteboard of a classroom. 

Stemming from these events, many schools including Richard Montgomery have implemented talks and town halls so that students have an opportunity to share experiences concerning racial issues and other hate speech.

“When school rules are not being followed, we must shape school culture against racism through community events. At RM we do equity education through town halls. I think everyone who has something to say about these incidents should have the opportunity to,” sophomore and founder of the Student Equity Committee (SEC) Zaki Ahmad said. 

In the same week of WJ’s graffiti incident, racist remarks against Asian students were reportedly made at Sherwood High School sports games. Sherwood Principal Tim Britton has apologized for the behavior of Sherwood students and wrote a letter highlighting efforts to prevent these incidents in the future. 

This includes investigating who is responsible and administering serious consequences, as well as holding a dialogue among students and staff.

“These students should not walk away free. They need to be held accountable. If students understand the severe impact of their comments and actions, there’s a greater chance they won’t do it again,” Ahmad said.

According to the website Niche, MCPS is the most diverse school district in the state of Maryland. Of 160,000 students, 32 percent are Hispanic/Latino, 27 percent are White, 21.4 percent are Black, 14.1 percent are Asian and 5.3 percent are two or more races, with less than one percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, and American Indian or Alaskan Native.