By Barney Blakeney
Isis Frasier says she hasn’t taught her 14-year daughter to be racist, so when a white schoolmate called the girl a “coon”, the girl had no idea what the term meant. Unfamiliar with the term used generations ago to denigrate Black people, the girl used her cell phone to Google the term.
According to Wikipedia, the coon caricature, born during American slavery, is one of the most insulting of all anti-black caricatures. The name itself, an abbreviation of raccoon, is dehumanizing. Before its (the term’s) death, the coon developed into the most blatantly degrading of all black stereotypes.
Frasier said her daughter, a student at Lowcountry Leadership Charter School March 3 called her and began a FaceTime (real time) video of the confrontation. Upset, the girl had been arguing with a 16-year-old white schoolmate in another of what had become ongoing confrontations when the white male student called her ‘a coon’. After looking the word up the girl traded insults with the boy, son of Meggett Mayor Harry Herrington, III. Frasier said she witnessed the confrontation via FaceTime.
In a March 5 email to Herrington Frasier said, “The intent of this email is to inform you of the disgusting bigotry your son has bestowed upon my daughter. My daughter attends Lowcountry Leadership Academy, your alma mater formerly ‘Country Day.’ My daughter contacted me via FaceTime on two consecutive days. Your son was aware the first day when he referred to my daughter as a ‘Gorilla’. In addition (he) verbalized ‘your mom is one too.’ I prompted and coached my daughter to ignore your son. To add insult to injury I was contacted via phone (the second day) to hear your son calling her a “Coon”. We all are aware “Coon” is another way of saying ‘Nigger’.
“Yesterday’s incident broke the camel’s back. The above aforementioned is extremely disgusting and disheartening. We would believe in the 21st century these words, phrases and hatred would not be used and/learned or tolerated. Your son’s behavior is extremely insulting and abusive. Your son’s racism is not and will not be tolerated. In addition, your position as Mayor of Meggett since 2011 calls for you to be transparent. I pray, that your son has not/is not learning from home. I look forward to hearing from you and this situation ceases.”
While Herrington would not comment for this story saying it isn’t newsworthy, he did respond to Frasier’s March 5 email. According to that email provided by Frasier, he said, “Mrs. Frasier, I have reviewed your email and spoken with my son. I have also spoken with the School Principal and Assistant Principal. They met with my son this morning and have already taken disciplinary action, which I fully support.
“While I am disappointed in his choice of words, I am equally disappointed that you placed all of the blame on him and made no mention of your daughter’s part in this incident. Him calling her names is no different than her calling him names, it’s wrong (according to Frasier while Herrington’s son used racial slurs her daughter only used profanity).
“Both my son and your daughter used inappropriate words towards one another and apparently it’s not the first time. It is unfortunate and disappointing that they were disrespectful to each other, but both of them are at fault. My son understands that his choice of words was in poor taste and will apologize to your daughter. As noted above, the school has already taken disciplinary action with my son. To be fair, I have also requested that the school take disciplinary action with your daughter as well. I apologize for what has transpired and hope they both understand that calling each other names is no way to conduct themselves.”
Frasier said while her daughter has been placed on a behavioral plan, Herrington’s son only has been denied participation in a school field trip, but continues to participate in varsity sports.