Turlock High student makes racist joke on Instagram; school investigating

Turlock High School is investigating the posting of a racist joke by a junior on her Instagram account. The post and reactions to it were widely shared across social media over the weekend.

A photograph that accompanies the post is of two girls wearing Turlock High letterman’s jackets. Their faces are cropped from the photo.

It’s not clear whether either is the teen who posted the photo and joke. She identifies her activities/interests as wrestling, shot put, discus, cello and Girl Scouts. And the hashtags accompanying her joke about blacks are #maga (as in “make America great again”) and #bluelivesmatter.

The account, no_its_ngo, existed Monday morning about 9 a.m. but could not be found when sought an hour later.

A tweet by a fellow Turlock High student indicates that the original caption – the joke – was later changed and the Instagram post was taken private. “Changing captions and going private does not change a thing,” the student tweeted Friday night.

Minutes earlier, the student had tweeted, “Sooooo proud of my school.” She included another person’s tweet, which said about the Instagram post, “I still want to yet see what is SOOOOO funny about this?”

The Instagram caption appears to have been changed from the racist joke to, “I am proud to be an American, not just because I have the right to speak my mind and carry a gun, but because it’s the land of opportunity. If you work hard, anyone can be successful. - Lee Greenwood.”

Greenwood is a country music singer best known for his hit “God Bless the USA,” the chorus for which begins with, “I’m proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free.”

The THS student who made the Instagram post later added to the caption, “Sorry for being insensitive from my last caption. I should have been more compassionate and understanding.”

Marie Russell, spokeswoman for the Turlock Unified School District, told The Bee in an email, “This was brought to site and District attention over the weekend. Turlock High School will be investigating this matter today (Monday) and will hold those responsible accountable for their actions. A letter will also be mailed home to all THS stakeholders reiterating site and District expectations related to the appropriate use of social media and the consequences for failing to adhere to such.”

In a follow-up message, she said those involved have been identified. About what consequences they could face, she wrote, “We adhere to CA Education Code guidelines and the TUSD Discipline Code, as well as TUSD Eligibility Participation Contract in assigning consequences, which can range from school discipline to a loss of extracurricular privileges depending on the nature and severity of the conduct.”

Another Twitter user noted that the no_its_ngo post misspelled “past” as “passed” in the racist joke. “Disgusted to see a child say this,” the person’s tweet said. “Not old enough to spell correctly but feel they can make ignorant and demeaning comments about my people.”