Opinion: Tulalip Tribes confront racism after school shooting

Members of the Tulalip Tribes welcome a victim of the school shooting back to the reservation. Photo from Tulalip News / Facebook

Writer Ragina Johnson discusses how the Tulalip Tribes of Washington have faced racism in the wake of a fatal school shooting:
On October 24, 14-year old freshman Jaylen Fryberg walked into the lunchroom at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Washington state, north of Seattle, and opened fire on five of his close friends, some of them his cousins. He then took his own life.

As of this writing, five young people, Zoe Galasso, Gia Soriano, Shaylee Chuckulnaskit and Andrew Fryberg, along with Jaylen Fryberg, have lost their lives to the increasingly violent world we live in.

Like people everywhere, Jaylen Fryberg's family and friends are trying comprehend what could have caused this horrific tragedy. So far, very little is known about his motivations--but there is still an incredible amount of speculation in the media anyway.

The guesswork about his motives has ranged from questions about his mental health, to speculation that Jaylen was a jealous ex-boyfriend, to blame heaped on his family for not teaching him right and wrong, and on his Native American heritage and affiliation with the Tulalip Tribes. Needless to say, the discussion has been thoroughly tainted with racist stereotypes.

In the aftermath of the shooting, there are have been death threats issued against Native American students in the area around Marysville. How could this be a response by anyone--to threaten a community and children who have suffered an unbearable loss?

It's sad that the Tulalip Tribes felt compelled by the pressure to state the obvious: "Even though we may never know why, there can be no justification for taking the lives of others. These were the acts of an individual, not a family, not a Tribe."

Get the Story:
Ragina Johnson: What happened in Marysville? (Socialist Worker 11/11)

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