A nine-year-old African American girl in Alabama hanged herself after being subjected to racist bullying for a year at her elementary school by black schoolmates for befriending a white boy and his family.
Not being able to cope with the racist taunts, including calls her to “kill yourself” at her elementary school in Demopolis, Alabama, McKenzie Adams was allegedly driven to commit suicide at her home in the town of Linden.
Jasmine Adams indicated that a group of her daughters’ schoolmates did not like her daughter – and the fact that a white family friend drove her and their white son to school on a daily basis.
The fourth grader reportedly experienced bullying over this interracial friendship with her white classmate and his family.
"Some of the student bullies would say to her, 'Why you riding with white people? You're black, you're ugly. You should just die," Adams told WIAT-TV.
McKenzie’s aunt, Eddwina Harris, said the harassment included fellow students’ vitriolic calls to her niece to kill herself.
“She was being bullied the entire school year, with words such as ‘kill yourself,’ ‘you think you’re white because you ride with that white boy,’ ‘you ugly,’ ‘black [expletive],’ ‘just die,’” Harris told the Tuscaloosa News. “It's an emotional roller-coaster.”
Harris wants this to be a learning situation so that other families in the area do not have to experience the heartache she and her family are experiencing at the hands of racism in Alabama public schools.
“God has blessed me to help others with my platform, and now it's time to help,” she added. “There are so many voiceless kids. God is opening great doors for justice for my niece.”
Call for help not heeded
Bullying was a problem that McKenzie’s family tried to address at the elementary school in her hometown before experiencing more at the new school in which she enrolled.
“McKenzie attended U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis, transferring there after her mother and grandmother complained to the state Board of Education that she was being bullied at her elementary school in Linden,” TheBlaze noted from the mother’s account. “McKenzie [reportedly] informed her teachers and her assistant principal a number of times that she was being bullied.”
The mourning mother was shocked at the hatred her daughter continued to receive throughout the schoolyear – bullying that was apparently tolerated by school faculty and officials during the fall and spring semesters.
"She told me that this one particular child was writing her nasty notes in class,” Adams tearfully recounted to WIAT-TV. “It was just things you wouldn't think a nine-year-old should know. And my baby to tell me some of the things they had said to her, I was like, 'Where are they learning this from?'”
She felt that the local school system simply did not do enough to deter the bullying – despite many concerns and warnings presented to the district throughout the year.
"I just felt that our trust was in them that they would do the right thing," she added. "And it feels like to me it wasn't it wasn't done."
The incessant harassment was reportedly the driving force behind McKenzie’s suicide.
“[McKenzie allegedly took her own life after facing relentless bullying and racism in class …” The New York Post informed. “McKenzie Adams’ relatives said she hanged herself Dec. 3 in her home in Linden – about 100 miles west of Montgomery – and was discovered by her grandmother.”
From promise to despair
The once vivacious and ambitious nine-year-old aspired to become a prestigious scientist when she grew up.
“The nine-year-old excelled in math, but she also liked riding her bike, playing with dolls, PlayStation 4 and recording goofy home videos with her cousins,” The Washington Post noted. “Instead of making plans to gather McKenzie and her cousins for Christmas, the child’s family is preparing to bury her Saturday after she hanged herself.”
Conflicting accounts …
U.S. Jones Elementary School – which has the motto, “Where hope begins and dreams come true” – does not corroborate McKenzie’s family’s account of rife racism on campus that led to her death, with school officials insisting that they have no record of bullying taking place.
On Tuesday, Demopolis City Board of Education (DCBE) attorney Alex Braswell announced that a probe into the matter was administered, which allegedly did not back claims made by McKenzie’s family.
“We have concluded our internal investigation to the allegations of bullying, which led to this senseless death,” Braswell notified The Tuscaloosa News. “There have been no findings of any reports of bullying by either the student or family. The findings of this internal investigation are consistent with the results of the investigation of the Linden Police Department at this point in time.”
Linden Police Chief Robert Alston said a probe by his department is still being conducted to get to the bottom of the matter.
“We weren’t able to confirm whether she was bullied or not at this point,” Alston told The Washington Post Tuesday. “We’ve talked to several officials at the school, and all of them said they have no official report of any bullying.”
Post-mortem clues could help the community find some answers.
“The police chief said he had requested a preliminary autopsy and would soon be able to review it,” The Washington Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker divulged. “The Marengo County coroner couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.”
However, just down the road, another police station is assured that the death was spurred by vicious racism that McKenzie experienced at her school.
“The neighboring Pine Hill Police Department mourned the nine-year-old’s death in a Facebook post, saying Adams was a ‘VICTIM of BULLYING,’" Stanley-Becker pointed out.
Not again …
To help McKenzie’s family and keep similar future tragic incidents from occurring within Alabama’s public schools, a campaign was started to raise money and increase awareness of the racist bullying that allegedly took place.
Harris – who serves as a television host in Atlanta Georgia – has taken initiative to stop the racism, help the mourning family financially and start the healing process.
“Harris is promoting a GoFundMe page soliciting donations for ‘The McKenzie Foundation,’ which ‘will serve as a source to stop’ bullying, the page promises,” Stanley-Becker divulged. “She also endorsed the sale of $7 buttons imprinted with the child’s face and the words ‘Gone to [sic] Soon’ and ‘STOP BULLYING.’”