Some South High students return to lockdown, others stay home - KMSP-TV

Community leaders: Tension at South High between Somalis, African Americans

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MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) -

Friday saw a strange day at South High School as students returned to a school still maintaining a code yellow lockdown, meaning movement in and out was restricted following a lunchroom riot the day before.

What began as a food fight turned into a full-on brawl between 300 and 400 students at the school during the third lunch period on Thursday, but Friday didn't see any additional incidents.

That isn't to say the school has settled yet. Some parents felt they needed to keep their kids home while things cooled down, but there were no solid absence numbers.

While the day passed peacefully, community leaders say the tension serves as a wake-up call regarding brewing racial tensions between African American and East African students.

African Americans in the community say the new Africans don't appreciate the struggle of the civil rights movement or the historical relevance of slavery -- but likewise, Somali students argue that African Americans know very little about their homeland's two-decade-long history of civil war.

Meanwhile, the rest of South High School seems caught in the middle. Nancy Schroedsen kept her freshman daughter home until she saw the extra police presence.

"She came here because of the cultural diversity. She fought to be here," she said. "It's a great school."

Food fight aside, the struggle really is part of the story of America. Every new ethnic group encounters similar struggles. At the turn of the last century, Germans were criticized for not speaking English. Eastern Europeans were considered somehow less worthy than Western Europeans.

Mexican Americans and immigrants from southeast Asia are currently also facing struggles of perception in American society, but the uncomfortable truth appears to be that every new group seems to experience more economic opportunities than African Americans do. Now, a conversation on that topic is set to begin.

An open dialogue is set for Tuesday so that students can address some of these issues, and the district also plans to meet with parents in the near future.

Minneapolis police and the school district are still investigating the food fight.

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