Fifteen year old Micah Speed has been the victim of consistent racial bullying at Wake Forest High School.
On Friday March 3, Tyler Goodell tweeted a video of Micah being harassed by a white student. The student had a history of throwing derogatory slurs and phrases, such as “n*gger” and “black piece of sh*t” towards Micah.
“That day he told me I should name my kids crack head and convict because that’s what they would grow up to be,” Speed said.
The white student had agitated Micah to the point where Micah responded by knocking him down in the school hallway. Micah’s reaction was due to the other student’s threat to shoot Micah’s mom and sister.
“My son is a kid that people know as being a jokester,” Micah’s mother Yolanda, stated. “What this young man said to Micah was not a joke. He crossed the line when he started talking about killing our family.”
The family expressed their concern for safety within the Wake County Public School System.
“In the other school systems that I have been apart of, if there was even a threat of gun violence the student would get expelled or put in jail,” Micah said.
Shortly after the incident, WFHS administrators immediately took Micah into custody, while the other student remained in school.
“I do not condone Micah putting his hands on the other students bookbag and pulling him down,” Yolanda said. “I think there could have been a better way for him to deal with this issue, however Micah brought to light an underlying problem with the school system.”
Yolanda added that Micah’s response was prompted by the other student’s verbal abuse.
“What was in that video was a reaction to constant verbal harassment that has been going on for months,” Yolanda said. “The school should not be criminalizing my son while victimizing this other young man.”
Micah explained that his mildly violent behavior was unlike him and a product of perpetual torment.
“I love people, I love all people” Micah said. “I am somebody that laughs things off or walks away.”
The initial 10 day suspension that was issued was lowered to five days as a result of the quick backlash that WFHS faced from the internet and public.
An online petition started on the behalf of Speed, and many parents called the school to express their concern. People from all over the country took to the internet to articulate their disapproval of the school’s faculty.
“How can the school allow such clear injustice to occur within their institution like this?” one girl wrote online.
Another anonymous student responded by explaining that the Wake Forest High School staff had a notorious reputation for tolerating discrimination towards minorities.
“I am not shocked by this,” the student began. “This stuff is typical behavior at my school.”
In response to media publicity, the school decided to interject and investigate the controversy on a more objective basis.
“We are not privy to any punishment that the other student is receiving,” Yolanda said. “The school made it clear that something is happening, though.”
Yolanda Speed questioned the role that Micah’s teacher played in the classroom.
“For weeks in the classroom, there had been conversations going on that the teacher did not stop. In a marketing class, students should not be having conversations about the holocaust, civil war, and slavery,” Yolanda said. “Where was the teacher during all of this?”
Micah explained that the bully had sat next to him in one of his classes.
“He sits next to me in class and always cracks racist jokes,” Micah said. “He told me that he does not understand why black people are so mad about slavery, and equated Black struggle to that of Jews during the Holocaust. I told my teacher multiple times that he had been harassing me and the teacher did nothing.”
“I don’t understand how you can be in the classroom and not interject when students are behaving like this,” Yolanda stated. “We need to address the fact that there are inappropriate conversations going on in the classroom without teacher interference. I send my child to school to learn, and as far as I know there is always an adult present to ensure safety for all students.”
Both Yolanda and Micah reported that the second teacher who allegedly attempted to deflect situation, simply made it worse.
“What made me angry about what [the teacher] did, is she kept coming up and getting in Micah’s face while he was walking away,” Micah’s mom said. “The more he walked away, the more she kept going up to him.”
Micah was also stunned by this teacher’s interference.
“She told me that the student had only used words,” Micah said. “She kept telling me to hit her even as I was walking away. When I explicitly told her that I would not hit a girl, she still kept walking in my face and calling me a punk.”
Micah’s mom disagreed with the teacher’s faulty reasoning.
“You do not go into a charged situation and start yelling at the person who is supposed to be the angry one. That is not how you deflect a situation,” Yolanda stated. “What that young man told my son were not just words, we teach our kids at a young age to watch what they say.”
Yolanda also made it clear that students should not be threatening or harassing the teacher shown in the video.
“I do not believe that this teacher should be getting death threats,” Yolanda said. “No one should be threatening anybody.”
Micah’s sister Candacee Speed, shared her perspective on the recent situation.
“Even when this goes away, Micah is not going to be just Micah anymore. The suspension is still going to be there and he is still going to be considered a bully,” Candacee stated. “Even if we were to take Micah out of this school and leave, there will always be another Micah until this school system gets reformed. These issues will always be swept under the rug. The same issues keep happening throughout Wake County and nothing is progressing.”
Candacee added that she shared a similar experience with discrimination in another Wake County Public School.
“When I went to Heritage High School, I would see kids walking around school with KKK flags on,” Candacee said. “A lot of people here are subliminally racist.”
Micah’s mother revealed that she is constantly worried about her son’s safety.
“He is a young black man, and everywhere Micah goes he needs to ensure his own safety,” Yolanda Speed said. “Unfortunately, young black men are not valued in this country. It is a privilege to be a white American.”
The school refused to disclose information on the incident and declined to comment.