After This Seemingly Racist Photo Was Shared Online, A Mom Decided To Set The Record Straight

In the wake of the Santa Fe High School shooting, some students were invited to an NBA basketball game to pay their respects. However, when an image from the occasion emerged online, it sparked a debate about racism. Things grew so out of hand, in fact, that one mom felt compelled to set the record straight.

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In May 2018 Santa Fe High School near Houston in Texas was rocked by a deadly shooting. During the massacre, two teachers and eight students lost their lives. A further 13 people were injured in the horrifying attack.

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Police later named the suspected shooter as 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis. He was a student at the high school and had allegedly set upon his classmates with his father’s legally owned revolver and shotgun.

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After surrendering himself to police, Pagourtzis reportedly admitted he had meant to kill the students he shot at and had spared classmates he liked. He was charged with capital murder and denied bail. If he’s found guilty, it’s possible he could spend his entire life behind bars.

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In the days following the shooting, staff and students struggled to come to terms with what had happened at their high school. However, it’s fair to say that the Santa Fe community as a whole was knocked sideways by the killings.

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With that in mind, less than a week after the shooting, a tribute was held for the victims at the NBA playoffs, in which the Houston Rockets clashed with Golden State in Game Five. Before the game, survivors and First Responders joined players on court for a minute’s silence.

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The moment was an extremely poignant one, with students, players and fans all taking the opportunity to remember those who had lost their lives. Further marking the occasion, following the silence, the NBA commemorated the moment on its Twitter page.

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Within the update, the NBA included a picture of a group of girls from Santa Fe High School paying their respects to their fallen classmates. Alongside the image, the caption simply read, “#SantaFeStrong.” Unsurprisingly, the touching photo received a lot of attention online – but not for the reason you may think.

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After the image appeared on Twitter, many users couldn’t help but notice that, while the six white girls visible in the image were all holding hands, one black girl on the far right was noticeably not included in their chain. And that didn’t seem to sit well with some people.

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Seeing the girl stood on her own, many feared that she had been the victim of racism. Some suspected that her classmates had refused to hold her hand simply because she was black. As a result, many Twitter users were quick to voice their outrage.

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In response to the image, one incensed commenter wrote, “Who the white girls?? Yeah they did have one job and refused to hold the black chick’s hand… Their racism’s showing BIG TIME.” And it seemed she wasn’t the only one to share that sentiment.

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However, as conversation around the image got out of hand, the girl’s family members began to chip in. “That girl is my cousin,” one wrote. “I asked her about this photo and she said she was trying not to cry so she kept to herself. So instead of trying to divide our community, how about you mind your business and allow our kids to mourn.”

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But the furore surrounding the image became so large, one of the girl’s parents also chose to speak out. Writing on Twitter, Lynda Janice said, “The ‘black girl’ is my daughter. It’s people like you that keep the race crap stirred up.”

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Taking aim at those calling her daughter’s classmates racist, Lynda added. “You just look for ways to make things about race. These girls are her friends. You have no idea what you are talking about so you just need to shut up.”

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In a separate tweet, Lynda explained that her daughter had chosen not to hold her classmate’s hand in an attempt to maintain her composure. “My daughter didn’t want to cry before she had to sing, and holding hands would have caused her to start crying. That’s the story, nothing about race.”

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However, despite taking the time to set the record straight, some people refused to accept Lynda’s version of events. In fact, some even questioned whether Lynda was the mother of the girl in question at all, given the fact that she was white.

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When one troll demanded proof that the girl was Lynda’s daughter, the mom posted a family picture online. “I have a birth certificate which you will not be seeing,” she added. “This is us at senior parent night for band.”

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Eventually, to settle the matter once and for all, Lynda’s daughter Nicole decided to speak out herself. And her main concern was that, by choosing to focus on her race, people had forgotten the original reason for the photograph.

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Speaking to TV news station KHOU in May 2018, Nicole said, “It’s very disappointing that people are going to take a race issue out of a picture with nine grieving girls in it. I grieve in my own different way. I don’t like to be touched.”

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Her mom Lynda said that the whole episode had caused more problems for her already distressed daughter. “When Nicole came out of her room Saturday morning, she was upset that they had turned this into a race thing, because she knew what was real,” her mother revealed. “To make something so simple into a race issue was just absolutely ludicrous.”

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