AALDEF files racial harassment complaint on behalf of Kentucky middle school student

This week, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights on behalf of a Kentucky middle school student who says she has suffered racial harassment for several years: Civil Rights Group Files Racial Harassment Complaint on behalf of Asian Middle School Basketball Player.

14-year-old Milena Clarke, an Asian-Kazakh adoptee and recent graduate of Russell Middle School in Kentucky, has been the target of severe, persistent, and ongoing racial harassment in the Russell Independent School District's Red Devils basketball program since July 2011 -- including being called racial slurs like "Russian chink," "gook," and "commie."

"At some point, I couldn’t go a day without hearing them call me a ‘chink’ or something similar," said Milena. "It has been a constant part of my life on the team and in school."

Milena is an Asian-Kazakh adoptee from Almaty, Kazakhstan, and one of only a handful of Asian or minority students in the RISD school system. She has also been the only racial minority on most of the RISD basketball teams on which she has played. Her teammates singled her out and hurled incessant racial epithets at her during games, practices, and in school hallways. She was called "Russian chink," "gook," and "commie," and mocked for observing Russian Orthodox prayer rituals.

The harassment also included regular slurs about African American teammates and friends Milena had made through the local spring/summer travel ball circuit. When her travel ball teammates and coaches visited the Russell High School gymnasium to observe games, Milena’s RISD teammates called her a "nigger lover" and asked provocative questions about why she socialized with African Americans.
The most frustrating part has been trying to get Milena's school and coaches to respond to these incidents. Despite her family's numerous attempts to report and address the harassment, its all gone unchecked for the past two years. Basically, the administration turned a blind eye to the racism happening right in front of them.

AALDEF's complaint asserts that the Russell Independent School District was deliberately indifferent to the ongoing harassment, and that RISD coaches and officials took steps to penalize Milena and her family for speaking up, including reducing her playing time and threatening to deny her future basketball opportunities.

More here: Ky. girl claims racial harassment from basketball teammates.

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