“Well, first of all, ‘American’ is not a language…”
Students at Cliffside Park High School in New Jersey walked out of class on Monday to protest a teacher’s racist comments, which were captured in a Snapchat video the previous week. The video in question shows the moment when a substitute teacher asked that students speak “American” instead of Spanish. The teacher told students that “military men and women are not fighting for your right to speak Spanish — they’re fighting for your right to speak American.”
In the Snapchat video, the teacher can be seen telling the students to leave, shouting “good bye” as the students try to explain why they were offended. Monday’s walkout was a protest of the teacher’s actions.
NBC News interviewed Vianery Cabrera, a 16-year-old who was reprimanded for speaking Spanish. Cabrera, a junior at the school, had been talking with a friend in Spanish about the Yankees when the teacher made her remarks. Cabrera said, “I have the right to speak Spanish. I have the right to speak English. I have the right to speak whatever language I speak, and that’s my right. There’s no law that says that I should or I must speak English.”
The protest started out small, with just a handful of students. The school was evacuated at 11 a.m. when a fire alarm was pulled. At that point, about a thousand students cleared the school, with several students joining the protest. Some of the students were seen waving flags from various Spanish-speaking countries.
The original Snapchat video can be seen below.
Credit: NBC News
The teacher, who has a history of cracking down on bilingual students, has not been reprimanded. It appears the school is not commenting on the situation.
[H/T] NBC News