School Suspends 7th Grade Girl for Speaking her Native Language
Racism can be experienced at any age. Just ask seventh grader Miranda Washinawatok (left) who was recently suspended from her basketball team for a game. The reason? She spoke her native language of Menominee to another student.
Miranda attends Sacred Heart Catholic Academy in Shawano, Wisconsin, which is situated about six miles from the south border of the Menominee Indian Tribe Reservations. With a student body that is over 60% American Indian one could reason that this would be a school that would both welcome and encourage its diversity.
Instead it’s shown quite the opposite, with such bigotry being displayed to a bilingual seventh grader who was simply teaching another student how to say “hello” and “I love you” in a language other than English. Initially “reprimanded” by the teacher who overheard the two students, Washinawatok was further chastised by another teacher who told her she didn’t appreciate that Miranda had upset the first teacher because “she is like a daughter to me.”
The racial intolerance displayed by both “educators” is sad.
Hiding behind a defense that Miranda was suspended for an “attitude problem,” the school has since taken little action in dealing with this clear case of discrimination. Miranda’s mother, Karen Washinawatok, is the director of the Language and Culture Commission of the Menominee Tribe and holds a degree in linguistics. She said Miranda is fairly fluent in the Menominee language, which they speak at home.
Washinawatok has had a total of three meetings with school officials. Their amends thus far? Promises that Miranda and the Menominee Tribe would both receive public apologies. However Washinawatok went on to say:
“On Wednesday, a letter was sent to parents and guardians. A real generic letter of apology, that really did not go into specifics as to why there was this apology.”
The school has failed Miranda Washinawatok, and those responsible should be held accountable. Experiencing this type of discrimination at the hands of the very people who are in the position of educating is unacceptable. Simply apologizing doesn’t change the inherent racism displayed by said individuals. Zero tolerance should apply here. By not taking a stronger stand, the school is sending the message that discrimination is okay–as long as you say you’re sorry later.