Houston ISD parent outraged after child given ‘artwork’ calling her ‘little BLACK monkey’ from another student

Photo courtesy of Colvin family. (Copyright 2024 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – A Houston family is still traumatized after their daughter was given a racist piece of art by a student as a birthday gift.

Khloe’ Colvin, an 8th-grade student at the school, says a 7th-grade student gave her a heart-shaped letter with her name on it and the message: “You Little BLACK Monkey.”

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KPRC 2′s Re’Chelle Turner asked Khloe’ about the situation.

What was your first reaction?

“I kind of dismissed it, because at our school, it’s normal for things like that to happen,” she said.

It happened on January 18th, which was also Khloe’s 14th birthday at Houston ISD’s Arabic Immersion Magnet School in the Montrose area.

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Her mother, Ivette Morris Colvin, who serves as the school counselor, told KPRC 2′s Re’Chelle Turner the 7th-grade student was given one day of in-school suspension (ISS.) Though it has been months since the incident occurred, she tells us it has adversely affected her mental health and she is on FMLA leave to take care of herself and work a modified schedule.

And this has affected you so bad that you are considering retiring from the school?

“Yes, this is my 30th year. I love my job. I love watching kids, but I love my children more. I’m perplexed at her, or if she really understood the depth of it, you know? And I know some kids in her culture, I’ve seen some parents call their kids little monkeys, but not knowing how demeaning it is, you know, in African-American cultures,” Colvin said.

The Colvins’ meet with school leaders who apologized. KPRC 2 received a statement from HISD:

HISD Response

HISD is committed to ensuring safe and supportive learning environments for all students, every day. Racially charged language and behavior has no place in our schools.

While we can’t comment on the specifics of any one student, administrators at the campus took appropriate action as outlined in HISD’s disciplinary guidelines, which includes meeting with the students involved and their families. School leadership then engaged the broader school community in restorative conversations to move beyond temporary solutions and motivate meaningful, lasting change. This included a project where the school’s theater students created a public service announcement (PSA) on the importance of inclusivity and respect. The PSA was shown during elective periods to facilitate small-group discussions among students and teachers. In addition, administrators spoke to students about the use of hateful language, and Crime Stoppers visited the school to deliver a presentation on bullying.

HISD Policy on Bullying

Mrs. Colvin says racism is not acceptable.

“There needs to be diversity training, primarily on this campus,” she said.

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Colvin wants the school to address the situation as follows:

1. A letter to the parents of all Arabic Immersion Magnet School parents acknowledging that there is a problem and that an action plan is being created to ensure that a culture where all students not only feel welcomed but can flourish is established.

2. A Face-to-Face meeting with all parents to address the issue to ensure that both students learn from this experience.

3. Actively employ the social and emotional learning model that the upper management does not acknowledge as needed to address the needs of the whole child. Just like a hungry child is distracted from learning so is an emotionally affected child. Meet this need in a post-COVID society and it would foster an environment for them to thrive academically.

4. Reassignment or training of the current Principal. Her tactics of not wanting to ask for help when she did not know has adversely affected the school that has great possibilities.

Khloe says the student apologized.

The Colvin’s told Turner their children recently got accepted into a different school and they’re leaving The Arabic Immersion Magnet School.

About the Authors

Emmy award-winning journalist born and raised in Alabama. College football fanatic and snow cone lover! Passionate about connecting with the community to find stories that matter.

Historian, educator, writer, expert on "The Simpsons," amateur photographer, essayist, film & tv reviewer and race/religious identity scholar. Joined KPRC 2 in Spring 2024 but has been featured in various online newspapers and in the Journal of South Texas' Fall 2019 issue.

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