A Black history teacher in Virginia is taking legal action against a white student who he claims has continuously taunted him with a banana.
As NBC affiliate WAVY reported, it was in October when Joel Mungo of Virginia’s Menchville High School first noticed that a banana “was perfectly placed in the doorway” of his classroom. In the months following, the fruit was spotted six more times in the same exact position, resulting in the suspicion that it was a “deliberate act.”
“Someone left a banana at my door. The banana was perfectly placed in the doorway,” Mungo told WAVY 10.
Mungo, who has worked at Menchville High School for 21 years, revealed that he noticed a banana placed in his classroom doorway in October 2021.
The history teacher added that it became a reoccurring incident as the banana was placed in the same spot near the doorway at least once a month. Mungo, who is one of the few black teachers at the predominately white high school, did not want to tolerate it anymore after six instances.
“Someone left a banana at my door. The banana was perfectly placed in the doorway. It was clearly a deliberate act,” Mungo told WAVY 10. Bananas are used and weaponized by racists to compare black people to monkeys.
Mungo reported the act to Menchville administrators, who then pulled up footage and found the student responsible, a 10th-grade student whom Mungo used to teach.
“I gave the student a chance to come clean. I asked him, ‘Hey did you do this?’ He said ‘No,’ he played dumb, ‘No idea what you’re talking about.’ So I said ‘Okay, go down to the assistant principal.’ I’m the only Black teacher he has. He has six other teachers. No other teachers were involved,” Mungo revealed.
According to the history teacher, the student’s parents were contacted and initially appeared to be “truly embarrassed.” They later grew “irate” after learning that their son was being suspended for two days. The entire incident frustrated Mungo, so he decided to take some time away from work.
“Just to have some type of hate crime is absolutely ridiculous. I was sickened,” he said. “I was highly upset. So upset, I took the next day off. I didn’t go to work that Friday.”
After thinking about the situation, Mungo has decided to sue the student with the hopes to send a message that acts of racism “will not be tolerated.”
“I’m just fed up with the racism around, especially at our academic institutions. Coming from the HBCUs and other colleges, the bomb threats, the nooses, the bananas and now it’s streaming into public education,” he said. “It’s time to take a stand and just let people know it will not be tolerated. I know I’m not tolerating it. You have to speak up. You can’t allow it to go on because then it will just continue to go on.”
Attorney Ali Shahrestani, who has practiced education law in several states, told DailyMail:
“It sends a terrible message to other students, teachers, and the community when a student gets a slap on the wrist like this for such a disgusting series of alleged actions against a teacher. The fact that the student’s parents allegedly had the audacity to be upset by a two-day suspension might reflect the lack of sincerity of their initial alleged apology on his behalf,” said Shahrestani.
Watch the video below for more details: