Some black students at South Philly High were none too happy yesterday.
In the wake of Thursday's melee in which a group of African-American students attacked a number of Asian students, many griped about how they feel that black students at the school are being villainized because of the actions of a few bad apples.
Since last week's altercations in which, community activists said, about 30 Asian students were attacked by a group of black students, the district has cracked down, increasing the number of school police on foot patrol in the area and redeploying school security to the school's hot spots, said a district spokesman. City police also are lending assistance.
The district's response, some students say, has been excessive considering that only about 10 students, which included black and Asian students, were reported suspended over the incident.
"It was unnecessary," John Harris, an 11th-grader, said of both the school's and his classmates' actions. "I got nothing to do with it. Just because we're black, they think we're in gangs."
"I feel offended," said Trina Moore, 17, a senior. "They just labeled all of us."
Meanwhile, other students, like senior Shakeema Eaddy, 17, believe that the actions of the alleged attackers were out of line. "I don't have no problems with the Chinese people," she said.
"I would have left them [the Asian students] alone and they all need to cut it out," she said of the black students. "What'd they [Asian students] do so bad for them to be targeted?"
Their sentiments were shared by many other African-American students at the school who say that only a small population of black students, who make up 70 percent of the school's population, have animosity toward their foreign-born counterparts.
"They didn't deserve it," Samirah Eugene, 16, an 11th-grader, said of the Asian students who were punched and kicked repeatedly inside and outside the school on Thursday.
But Moore noted that not all Asian students are angels, saying that some will cause trouble just as readily as members of any other group.
Xu Lin, community organizer for the Chinatown Development Corporation, agrees.
"I don't think any race has less problems than any other race," Lin said, adding that the students who were attacked weren't lumping all black students in with their assailants.
The behavior of those few were malicious and could have been the result of "pack mentality," said Chad Dion Lassiter, president of Black Men at Penn.
But in a society in which immigrants are seen as the "other," he said, prejudice is "deeply rooted" and "then we act out aggressively against something we don't understand."
District officials promised culture-sensitivity workshops as part of a solution, but Lassiter, who mentors black youth in the city, said that may not be enough.
"There also needs to be bullying prevention, intervention and anger-reduction workshops built into the curriculum," he said. "It's long overdue."
Yesterday about 50 Asian students followed through on their commitment to walk out of school, at Broad Street and Snyder Avenue, to address concerns for their safety. They pledged to do the same all week.
Last night students, along with parents and community organizers, met with district officials to continue talks about what steps both sides can take to improve safety conditions.