Uxbridge student target of racist language by classmates

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UXBRIDGE, Mass. (WLNE) – A local student is speaking out after he says he was made a victim of racism in his own high school community.

When Darius Silva came to Uxbridge High School as a junior, he heard his football teammates call him an unusual name.

“They started using this word, ‘colla’,” Silva said. “They would say it and start giggling.”

He said other students used the term too, both in the classroom and in group text messages. What Silva’s friend later told him was shocking.

“It’s another word for the N-word,” said Silva.

In a letter to parents, school administration acknowledged the issue, saying several students of color have been victims of racism, and officials are working on teaching students to be more inclusive and respectful.

Silva pointed to a sub-culture within the school.

“I’m walking down the hall, kids are calling me names, I don’t know who to trust,” he said. “It’s like they’re forming a side, racist and not racist. Where did this come from? It’s 2019.”

According to Silva, the racist language wasn’t only used by students.

“My coach said ‘go get that ball, boy’. Like that, in front of everybody,” he said.

Silva is referring to Head Coach Bob Martellio, who was investigated for an unrelated incident in Fall 2018 involving the use of language which, according to a letter that went home to parents, “may have upset some student-athletes”.

Martellio was ultimately cleared.

Silva’s mother, Maria Rodrigues, thinks the school’s punishment against the students and the coach…was weak.

“Obviously they’re not used to this, there’s obviously not a high minority,” Rodrigues said. “So you’re overwhelmed, but let me see the steps you’re taking don’t just tell me you’re taking steps, show me.”

Silva said he will not sit on the sideline, choosing to tackle the issue of racism head on.

The school department would not comment on specifics regarding Silva’s claims, or detail any punishment against those students.

In June, Silva’s family filed a discrimination complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of civil rights.

Silva said he has no intention of leaving Uxbridge High School and is speaking out in hopes that this sort of racism does not become the norm.

©WLNE-TV / ABC6 2019