Submitted photo

Concord father says town, schools failing to protect his son from racial harassment 

By Kelly Walters Correspondent
November 3, 2023

Concordian Emmy Odunze is seeking justice for race-based harassment he says his 13-year-old son has experienced at Concord Middle School.  

He says school administrators have minimized his reports and failed to take appropriate steps to protect his child from future abuse.  

One incident took place on a school bus last year, the day after Will Smith slapped Chris Rock on the Oscars stage, Odunze said. 

“Two girls were discussing the event and one asked … ‘Did you see what happened last night [at the Academy Awards]?’” he said. “She [then] decided to describe what happened to her friend by turning and slapping my son.” 

Odunze said he reported the incident to school administrators the following week. 

“The police [officer] who was assigned to Concord Middle School [did] confirm that it is an assault. But the vice principal, she tried to downgrade it,” Odunze said. “They have this grading [system] that determined the consequences, and she tried to grade it below what it was supposed to be.” 

On October 3, Odunze said, a boy called his son “the monkey in the middle” while students were playing football. A few moments later, the boy said, “Let’s whip him because he’s black” while holding a makeshift whip. 

Odunze said the boy received an in-school suspension and a project to complete as a result of his actions. He said he was shocked to learn the boy had remained in school.  

“That’s like going to work and facing your abuser … How do you think that makes my son feel?”  

“We’ve been dealing with this since fifth grade,” Odunze said. “Somebody has pulled his hair in school; somebody poured chocolate milk in his salad. [We] reported it and nothing was done… The school has never shown any of these families that there are consequences if [their children] do stuff like this.” 

School officials declined to comment. 

Odunze said he filed a police report but was told the incidents did not constitute crimes. Concord Police Chief Thomas Mulcahy said the matter has been referred to the District Attorney’s office. 

On October 12, the Boston Globe published a piece detailing the alleged harassment. A subsequent Globe story described a “rising wave of alleged racist and hateful incidents at Massachusetts schools in recent years.”  

Odunze, who said multiple media outlets have since contacted him, has hired a lawyer and has met with District Attorney Marian Ryan as well as a Concord Police Department detective. 

“I wish my son could just go to school in peace,” he said.  

“A lot of black families have been forced out of Concord because of this … It is very tough to afford living here, and then if you have to deal with this additionally, a lot of families have been forced out. But we’re not going anywhere. This has to change.”