An extremely concerning Snapchat group is now circulating among high school students in Traverse City and Traverse City Area Public Schools is aware of the group.
TCAPS says the group is called “slave trade” and targets Black students in Traverse City.
Parents of one of the victims tell us students are posting pictures of Black students and then giving them a price tag. Comments include “All Blacks should die” and “Let’s have another Holocaust.”
Nevaeh Wharton is a 15 year-old sophomore at Traverse City Central High School.
She got wind of the Snapchat group another local student had started.
“I pass some of them in the hallways, and I smiled at some of them in the hallways, and then I see that they say stuff about me and their other classmates like this,” says Nevaeh. “My friend texted me one night saying my friends created this weird group chat and I was like what’s it about? She was like they’re pretending to sell people of color-kids- that go to our school.”
When she woke up the next day she was shocked to find she was one of the many black students mentioned in the messages.
Nevaeh says, “The next morning she was like you were in it, they auctioned you off. I was like what? I felt like an object, really. Like they didn’t really process how I might feel if I came across these texts. They just thought of me as an object which was kind of disappointing.”
Nevaeh says she has never witness racism like this at her school or in the community, but now it is making her look over her shoulder.
“You never know how they might truly act or what they’re truly thinking when they see me in public,” Nevaeh says. “It makes me nervous actually to go and see them at school. So, I’m a little scared.”
TCAPS Superintender Jon VanWagoner says no child should feel scared to walk into school.
Superintendent VanWagoner says, “We are disgusted, appalled by the actions and it’s something we don’t condone and we’ll, to the fullest extent of within board policy and Federal Title IX law, be enforcing every bit of those aspects of furthest action that we can.”
He says TCAPS will continue to work closely with their equity and inclusion team to make sure people are held accountable and this doesn’t happen again.
VanWagoner says, “It’s something that our board fully supports us in making sure that our community and our students understand the need for that diversity and inclusion.”
Superintendent Jon VanWagoner says they will continue their investigation at each of the high schools, and say the Grand Traverse County Sheriff will also be conducting an investigation.