A Black history teacher at a predominantly white high school in Newport News, Virginia, is preparing to sue a former student who used a banana to perpetrate a series of racial pranks on him.
According to the teacher, the white adolescent was seen on tape executing activities that appeared to be intended to harass him because of his race.
Joel Mungo has been teaching at the largely white Menchville High School for 21 years, according to WAVY.
However, in October 2021, he began to be tormented by a student. Mungo says he is considering taking legal action against the person who committed the discriminatory act after he discovered who was responsible.
An anonymous person would drop a banana outside Mungo’s classroom every month for around six months.
Mungo explained, “Someone placed a banana at my door.” “The banana was positioned nicely in the doorway.”
“It was obviously premeditated.”
The banana would be carefully placed near the entrance’s threshold, close to the door’s right-hinge bearing corner.
Bananas have been used as racist symbols against persons of African heritage in the past. The concept compares darker-skinned individuals to lesser apes such as monkeys who consume bananas.
On the Moscow State University of Civil Engineering campus in Russia in February, a viral video of white individuals mockingly giving African exchange students the fruit generated uproar.
“They offer the students bananas and hurl snow at them, all while laughing and calling them names like’monkey,’” according to France 24.
Mungo decided to report the racially charged instances to the school administration last month, no longer accepting the connotation that he was a “monkey.”
Officials checked surveillance video from the school’s hallways in an attempt to find the perpetrator, and discovered that a white 10th-grade student was the one who regularly perpetrated the discriminatory prank.
The boy, who was in Mungo’s class, is seen walking with one of the bananas in his hand in a still from the video.
“I gave the pupil the opportunity to confess.” ‘Hey, did you do this?’ I inquired. “He answered ‘No,’ and then acted as if he didn’t know what you were talking about,” the teacher continued.
“So I said, ‘All right, go down to the assistant principal.’” He only has one Black teacher. Mungo mentioned that he has six additional teachers. “There were no other teachers involved.”
The boy’s parents were notified about the incident and “seemed sincerely mortified,” according to Mungo, but subsequently got “irate” after discovering the child had been suspended.
Mungo sneered, “It’s 2022.” “It’s ludicrous to have any kind of hate crime at all. I was sick to my stomach. I was in a bad mood. I was so upset that I took the following day off. That Friday, I didn’t go to work.”
The teacher claims he’s thinking about taking legal action against the adolescent.
“I’m simply tired of the bigotry,” he remarked, “particularly in our academic institutions.”
“Bomb threats, nooses, and bananas are coming from HBCUs and other colleges, and now it’s flooding into public school,” he lamented. “It’s past time to take a position and make it clear that this will not be tolerated.” I’m sure I’m not going to put up with it.”
Although he did not label the incidents as hate crimes, Virginia law might.
Hate crimes are defined as “incidents, as determined by law-enforcement authorities, intended to intimidate, harass, or harass any individual or group because of race, religion, gender, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, or ethnic or national origin,” according to Virginia Code 52-8.5 “Reporting Hate Crimes.”
Should Mungo take this course of action, he would have to have authorities investigate the incident and side with him.
Attorney Ali Shahrestani told Newsweek that suing the child is unlikely, but that “it might be the case that the teacher needed to go to court to make a bigger point here because the school issued a meager two-day suspension for an arguable hate crime and an act of malicious and racist harassment against an African American teacher in a predominantly white public school.”
He went on to say, “The 10th-grade pupil is arguably old enough to know better.” “Immediate expulsion would have been a more suitable consequence, especially since the school has video evidence of the student’s criminal activities.”
“If I were counsel in this case, I would advise the teacher to consider a lawsuit against the school for supporting a hostile work environment through its negligent failure to dole out a reasonable punishment,” he said, criticizing the school’s decision to give him a two-day suspension, adding, “[that’s] what a student should expect when he cheats on a test or gravely insults another student.”
“When a student gets a slap on the wrist like this for such a heinous set of alleged behaviors against a teacher, it sends a terrible message to other students, teachers, and the community,” Shahrestani argues.
Mungo claims that he is taking the beginning steps toward sending his own message.
“Speaking up is one way for him to demonstrate that he does not support these sorts of racially discrimination and harassment. “You have to speak up,” he replied. You can’t let that go on because then it would simply keep going on.”