Black Cobb student said white peer played whip-cracking sound on phone

Walton High School, which had the highest graduation rate in Cobb County’s public school system, at 96.1 percent. AJC FILE PHOTO

Walton High School, which had the highest graduation rate in Cobb County’s public school system, at 96.1 percent. AJC FILE PHOTO

A black Cobb County student who said another teenager at her school used an app on his cell phone to play the sound of a cracking whip wants the district to listen to the concerns of minorities on matters of racism.

Ivy Williams, 16, a junior at Walton High School, told Cobb County School Board members Thursday about the incident she said she experienced this month. Ivy said she was walking in the hallway at Walton when a white male student behind her used an app to play the sound of a whip cracking.

Ivy told her mother about the incident, and she reached out to Walton school officials. Shoshana Williams, who also spoke to the board, said her daughter told the student that what he was doing was offensive, but the teen responded with indifference.

Shoshana Williams said school officials told her Thursday that the male student “had no ill intent” because he used the app around other white students and not solely black students.

Shoshana Williams said she did not think the Walton High School administration handled the situation well, and said she thought this could be a teachable moment for the system.

“It’s kind of difficult for white students to understand why that’s offensive,” she added.

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Cobb County Schools is a majority-minority district, with 37% of its students identifying as white, 30% as black, 22% as Hispanic, 6% as Asian, 4% as two or more races, and 1% identifying as Pacific Islander or Native American.

When asked for a comment on the incident, the Cobb School District said in a statement that it’s “disappointing any time a student has a negative experience,” and it uses opportunities such as this to provide better support to students.

“We can’t promise that all 113,000 students in the Cobb County School District will behave appropriately, but we can make sure students receive the support they need when they have a bad experience,” the district’s statement said. “Walton High School has an open-door policy for any student or parent who has a bad experience and ask they reach out by phone, email, or in person. Whenever such an incident is reported, administration investigates, and the student code of conduct is applied appropriately.”

Ivy, a member of the school’s African American Heritage Club, said the district should take seriously the concerns raised by students of color and teach its staff how to appropriately respond to acts of racism.

“These matters need to be dealt with in a correct matter,” the student said. “They cannot be pushed away because this is the world we live in.”

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