TIGARD, Ore. — Several hundred students at Tigard High School walked out of class Wednesday morning in a show of support for students of color after some Tigard students posted a video on TikTok using racial slurs.
"It's not about shutting white people up," student Wajeeh Konge said. "It's not about making us better than white people. It's about making white people know we're on the same level and deserve the same rights."
In the TikTok video, the students can be heard using slurs to describe Muslim, Black and Asian people.
"When I saw that video, it made me disgusted," student Sydney West said. "I was sick to my stomach when I first saw the video."
"I cried," student Sean Sorkoram added. "I felt unsafe at my school. My skin isn't as dark as other beautiful Black women here who literally were called monkeys."
Students who walked out of school Wednesday said this is not an isolated incident, and racism is common at THS.
"You can't even walk 15 feet without being called a racial slur," said student Jordyn Smith. "It's not OK to be called the n-word, to be called monkeys, to be called anything to anyone. It's not OK at all."
"The reason I'm here and cleared my calendar is because first and foremost I'm an educator and I need to hear what the students are saying," said Tigard-Tualatin School District Superintendent Sue Rieke-Smith.
Rieke-Smith said the video left her disgusted and disappointed. She said the school is providing safe spaces for students to discuss what has happened and providing staff with training that will help them recognize and disrupt microaggressions and hate speech.
"It's the beginning of a much larger process to get at this issue and do it in a way that brings everyone along with us," Rieke-Smith said.
"The whole point of doing all of this is not to silence others," Konge said. "It's to give ourselves a right to speak."
Many students participating in the walkout called for the students behind the video to be suspended. Rieke-Smith told KGW the law prohibits her from sharing too much information about a potential punishment.