On her first day at St. Teresa’s Academy she took a seat in the back of her class. She’s always been a little soft-spoken and shy.
But she was excited to attend her big cousin’s alma mater, the school she’d heard was all about sisterhood, academic excellence and empowerment. And then it happened.
“I don’t want anyone thinking I’m racist,” her English teacher said, staring at her, “because the black people are sitting in the back.” And he laughed. The whole class laughed. And a few students carried the joke from class to class that first day of school freshman year. That was 2014.
Now Tone’Nae Bradley-Toomer is a senior, one of only four black girls in a class of over 90 students at Kansas City’s private, all-girls Catholic high school. It didn’t get better.
On the first day of school this year, Tone’Nae says, she sat down in her writing class and a student, one of those same students who laughed at her freshman year, said, “Ugh, she’s here.” The student moved across the room and said, “I don’t want to lose brain cells.” Later, in her anatomy class, where she is the only black girl, two girls made it clear they didn’t want to sit near Tone’Nae because they “didn’t want to smell that.”
Tone’Nae has heard jokes about the Ku Klux Klan. Derision about her dislike of the N-word. Dismissal about her concerns.
Fellow black students and St. Teresa’s alumnae told The Star of more…