Two Grapevine High School students have apologized for what one described as “a highly offensive, racist rap” they recorded in 2013.
In their letters of apology, distributed this week in an email from school district officials, both students said that when they recorded the “freestyle” rap, they were naive about what could happen and were “deeply sorry.”
“That was almost two years ago and we were just getting into social media at that time,” one student wrote. “Being new to social media then, I did not fully understand the swift and large impact that one posting can have.”
The other student wrote: “Racism was not the talk of the country nor had we ever witnessed the true power of social media, twitter was still fresh and we had never heard of anyone getting in trouble for posting anything on social media, it was the beginning of this social era. I was 14 years old and was ignorant to the words coming out of my mouth.
“As kids, we hear racist jokes all times of the day. It’s what we’re around, it’s the jokes we heard.”
An email to parents from Grapevine-Colleyville school district officials included with the apology letters a message from Grapevine High School Principal Shannon Tovar.
“We have been investigating a student-created audio recording that has been circulating among our students,” Tovar wrote. “The recording uses vulgar and racially insensitive words that are offensive and unacceptable. This type of language is not reflective of the culture of respect, understanding and sensitivity toward others that we expect here at Grapevine High School and in Grapevine-Colleyville ISD.”
She said the audio was recorded and first posted on social media in June 2013.
“We just became aware of this recently,” Tovar wrote. “While I am angered by this reprehensible behavior, the school does not have legal authority over this event, which occurred when school was not in session. That said, I assure you that we are taking this situation very seriously and are taking appropriate action where possible.”
Tovar said she met this week with class council leaders and members of the student council.
“They shared ideas about how we can work together to design a variety of opportunities that will address this type of behavior and reinforce the diverse values of our community,” Tovar said.
A few of the ideas, she said, include student focus groups, special programs, diversity training and guest speakers.
Marty Sabota, 817-390-7367
The full letters of apology are posted on star-telegram.com. Here are excerpts:
“While my intentions were never to offend anyone, I wasn’t thinking at the time about how awful this recording is or that it would get spread so widely.
“That was almost two years ago and we were just getting into social media at that time. Being new to social media then, I did not fully understand the swift and large impact that one posting can have. That does not excuse my behavior and I realize I made a huge mistake. I am so sorry to all the people who heard it and who I hurt by my actions.
“The song does not portray in any way how I actually feel about people. I am a very open-minded person and I enjoy being part of a diverse family and diverse community. Our whole family is embarrassed by this.
“I understand the gravity of my actions and have learned from this experience. I hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me. I love being part of this school and this community and I would be so grateful for your forgiveness.”
Signed: “Humbly, GHS student”
“The moment I heard that someone had heard and reported the rap to the principals office, I was fully aware that my life was about to change forever. I have gone over this day after day, thinking about what I was going to say to the people hurt, and utterly disgusted at the content of the recording. I have never been so utterly humiliated and ashamed in my entire life, because if you know me, you know you will never meet a human being with as much unconditional love and kindness in their heart as me.
“I am currently a junior in high school, and was a freshman at the time the song was recorded. It was a freestyle, meaning I just said whatever came to my head that would make people laugh. As kids, we hear racist jokes all times of the day. It’s what we’re around, it’s the jokes we heard.”
“ I am doing my best to help people understand what might have been going through my head when I said these horrible things.”
Signed, “Respectfully, GHS student”