9-year-old Nasir Andrews, a Bellevue, Washington elementary school student, has taken matters into her own hands after school officials refused to do anything to stop the months of racially-charged bullying she has suffered. Nasir moved to Washington from Georgia with her family last year and ever since she began studying at Ardmore Elementary School in September 2016, she has been the target of bullies who have done everything from calling her racist names to threatening to beat her up.
The fourth grader has repeatedly reported the incidents to teachers and even the school board, but little has been done to help her, and in the meantime she and her family grew more and more impatient. In light of the school’s inaction, Nasir posted a heartbreaking video on her mother’s Facebook account outlining her struggles in hopes of bringing attention to her issue and the problem of bullying in general.
In the now-viral video (below), Nasir sits silent and stone faced, going through a list of cards detailing the bullying she had undergone in the past 8 or so months, while Mariah Carey’s “Can’t Take That Away” plays in the background. In the video, she says she “used to be a happy kid” until she started school, and details the physical and emotional abuse she endured. She describes getting choked, hit, and punched in the face and even admits she never felt “included, liked or respected” while at Ardmore.
According to Nasir, she has been called a “servant” and “Nutella” by fellow students. When she reported the Nutella incident to the school, a teacher claimed that it wasn’t racist and then made the child write out the definition of racist, Nasir told a local news station, KIRO 7, in an interview. That same station reports that Nasir is one of about 40 black students at Ardmore Elementary School.
During the same interview, Nasir recalls other attacks. Her fellow students made fun of her for receiving reduced price lunch, calling her “homeless” and “poor”; one time, she found a drawing of guns with the words “die, die, die” in her cubby.
Nasir’s parents Chantey and Travis Andrews are understandably disturbed by the situation. “Our fear is there is a culture that has been established at the school where it is almost OK for the children to exercise different forms of treatment and bullying and harassment,” Chantey told KIRO.
The family reported the bullying to the school board and an investigation was reportedly opened, but the board chalked the incidents up to “unfortunate peer to peer interaction” rather than a wider trend. “I wish they would have paid more attention to the bigger picture,” Travis said.“I think a lot of the incidents were taken individually and handled individually and if it was more of a broader picture, and they were able to connect more of the dots, we would have probably stopped this earlier in the year.”
Following Nasir’s viral video and the ensuing media attention, the Bellevue school district released the following statement to KIRO:
"We are saddened by the experience shared in the Facebook video you referenced. We are very concerned about the well-being of all of our students. We can assure you that district and central office leaders continue to work with the family to ensure that their daughter and every student at Ardmore is receiving the support they need. The harassment, intimidation and bullying of any student is unacceptable. In the case you referenced, an investigation into the allegations has been in process."
Towards the end of her video, Nasir shares the hashtag #BackDownBully, urging viewers to help stop bullying forever. Here’s hoping her case helps spark a discussion around bullying, why it happens and what a community can do to stop it—and that Nasir and her family can find a better school for her to attend next year.