In March 2021, Texas school district administrators learned of a purported mock slave auction organized by high school students on Snapchat. The students attended the Don R. Daniel Ninth Grade Campus at Aledo High School. They were subsequently disciplined by the Aledo Independent School District. Aledo is a suburb of Fort Worth.
Mock Bids and Racial Epithets
The news was first reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram on April 12. It published that the students who participated in the group pretended to sell their Black classmates. They placed mock bids and posted comments about the bids.
A screenshot showed that the group name had at various times included the words “slave trade,” “farm,” and “auction.” When the screenshot was captured, the group name appeared to be a racial epithet followed by the word “auction.”
It also showed that one student bid $100 on a Black classmate. Another mock bid was $1 with the comment: “Would be better if his hair wasn’t so bad.”
Black Man, Gun, and Police Emojis
An emoji posted by Texas students in the mock slave auction showed a Black man with a straw hat. In one case, the emoji of the Black man in a straw hat was followed by a green water pistol and an emoji of a police officer.
Most platforms no longer allow emojis of real firearms. The next closest emoji offered for users is the green water pistol.
A spokesperson with the Aledo Independent School District told us that state and federal law prohibit schools from publicly disclosing disciplinary actions taken on students.
In a statement sent to Snopes, Aledo Superintendent Susan Bohn said that the school district “made a formal determination that racial harassment and cyberbullying had occurred.” She also noted that disciplinary action had been taken:
There is no room for racism or hatred in the Aledo ISD, period. Using inappropriate, offensive, and racially charged language and conduct is completely unacceptable and is prohibited by district policy.
More than two weeks ago, the district learned of an incident that involved students from the Daniel Ninth Grade Campus bullying and harassing other students based on their race and launched an immediate and thorough investigation that involved law enforcement. We made a formal determination that racial harassment and cyberbullying had occurred and assigned disciplinary consequences in accordance with our policy and the Student Code of Conduct. This incident has caused tremendous pain for the victims, their families, and other students of color and their families, and for that, we are deeply saddened.
After being notified of the incident, the Aledo ISD immediately engaged in conversations and communication with students and the student group that was involved, as well as their parents, and made it clear that statements and conduct that targets a student because of his or her race is not only prohibited but also has a profound impact on the victims. We also shared this message with staff and parents at the campus.
The Aledo ISD will continue to take action to ensure students, staff, and parents in our community understand the negative impact of racism and other forms of harassment on victims as well as the consequences of these actions at school through district-led educational opportunities.
We live in a community that comes together in support of its children and families, especially in difficult times, and we want our students of color to understand that they are loved and supported in Aledo ISD. We ask that our parents and community continue to have important conversations with their children at home about racism and other forms of harassment as we all work together as a community to support our Bearcats.
The Associated Press also reported that Eddie Burnett, president of Parker County NAACP, “said he plans to take up the matter with the Aledo Independent School District board.”
In an interview with WFAA-TV, Burnett said: “‘It’s just kids. They’re just playing. They don’t know any better.’ Well damn, teach them better.”
In sum, it was true that Texas high school students were disciplined after participating in a mock slave auction on Snapchat.