Rawstory.com – High school denounces student’s offensive tweets about Sikh man on flight

Benjamin Fearnow

Posted with permission from International Business Times

USA, 27 June 2017. A public school in the Indianapolis area has denounced the “offensive, racially insensitive” Snapchat posts a student sent about a Sikh passenger aboard a flight to Indianapolis.

The student at Eastern Hancock High School posted a Snapchat that circled the Sikh man wearing a turban and read, “Never mind I might not make it to Indy.” The post began gaining traction online after Simran Jeet Singh, a religion professor at San Antonio’s Trinity University, began sharing the post on Twitter and ridiculing the student.

An additional post from the student read, “Please god just let the man sleep,” as it showed the Sikh man resting his head. Another read, “Update I’m still alive J” and yet another post showing the man in a turban read, “Ok he just walk to the back of the Plane then to front then to his seat” before showing several shocked emojis.

The tweets received thousands of replies – the majority of which criticized the captions.

“As a Sikh who flies frequently, I’m no stranger to the uncomfortable stares and misguided fears people have of me,” read Singh’s first reply. “I try to live my life by the Sikh maxim, ‘Fear none, frighten none.’ I think about this teaching often when I travel,” he later tweeted.

According to the Sikh Coalition, there were more than 300 cases of violence and discrimination against Sikhs in the United States in the first month after the 11 September 2011 terrorist attacks.

The group says cases of profiling, bigotry and backlash are still commonplace in everyday American life. In 2012, an Army veteran shot and killed six people in a Wisconsin Sikh temple.

And in May, a 32-year-old Sikh man, Jagjeet Singh, was killed outside a California grocery store, allegedly his refusal to sell cigarettes to men without identification.

The school posted the following message on its Facebook page on Saturday:

“Eastern Hancock School officials have become aware of offensive, racially insensitive posts on social media recently made by one of our students.

Eastern Hancock administrators and staff do not condone, nor can we justify this type of behavior for any reason,” Eastern Hancock County Community School Corp. posted Thursday on Facebook. “As an educational institution, our priority is to prepare students to become successful members of a diverse world community.”

The school, which is about 35 miles east of Indianapolis, added that it is “seeking legal advice for avenues to address the student’s unacceptable behavior in accordance with national and state law, and local policy.”

Although posts on Twitter and Facebook must be deleted manually, Snapchat posts automatically disappear unless they are screen-grabbed and shared by recipients, as was the case in this incident, school officials said.

The screenshots had thousands of retweets on Twitter within just hours of the Thursday incident. It prompted the #FlyingWhileBrown hashtag, which pointed out Americans’ difficulty in understanding the difference between Muslims and Sikhs while also criticizing the overtly racist commentary.

“Once information is out in cyberspace it cannot be called back, nor contained,” Eastern Hancock Schools said. “Unfortunately, this incident, which may have been intended to be amusing, is not only deeply offensive, it has done considerable damage to many individuals.”



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