Things That Matter

Latina Students in Ohio Attacked for Speaking Spanish on the School Bus

Over the past few years hate crimes against Latinos and people of color have been rising in shocking numbers, in 2019 alone there were 527 reported hate crimes against Latinos. But because more and more people have access to a camera on their smartphones, more of these crimes are being documented.  

Last Thursday, Isabella Palma and Antonella Belsito, students in New Albany, a suburb of Columbus, Ohio, were attacked by another student for speaking in Spanish while getting off the school bus. 

The incident began when Palma and Belsito were sitting next to each other on the bus home and speaking in Spanish. Another student told them to quit speaking Spanish and when the two refused, the other student’s older sister attacked them while they were getting off of the bus. 

The assault can be seen in a video that Isabella Palma’s father, Freddy Palma, published on Instagram last week. In the video, one of the girls is allegedly confronted for speaking Spanish. After she walks away, the student attacks her without her looking.

Palma’s Instagram post, which has received thousands of likes, says in Spanish that the incident left both of the girls with bruises on their bodies and even on their heads. The post then calls out New Albany Schools for not taking action against the student that assaulted the two Latina students. 

Isabella Palma, who is of Venezuelan descent, told Telemundo that the incident has left her scared to go back to school because she has to continue seeing the student who assaulted her.

The school district, which still has not released a statement about the incident, suggested that Palma’s mother come up with a work from home plan if she is too afraid to go back to school. 

But Palma said despite the attack she’s going to continue speaking Spanish in public, telling the newscaster “I don’t care. I’m going to continue speaking my language. It doesn’t matter to me if people are racist.” Her mother, Glane Barroso, followed by saying “I’m proud of her, that’s our mother language. I’m really proud of her and her bravery.” 

mitú reached out to the family for a comment but did not hear back.

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