Two McCallie students expelled after administrators discover racist video

Staff Photo / McCallie School in Chattanooga is seen in 2019.

Two students have been expelled from McCallie School after administrators became aware of a video the boys posted using racial slurs, making monkey noises and threatening to "burn" Black people on a cross.

The video was discovered Thursday, although McCallie officials said they believe it was made during Thanksgiving break.

"The incident was promptly investigated within minutes of it being reported," a McCallie School spokesperson said in an email. "We confirmed that two McCallie boys made statements on a video that were reprehensible and wrong and a clear violation of our community standards, policies and the ethos of our school. Disciplinary action was immediately taken, and both boys are no longer enrolled at the school."

The video was found in advance of a basketball game this past Saturday between McCallie and Chattanooga Preparatory School, officials said. Chattanooga Preparatory is a predominantly Black and Latino school.

Due to the timing of the video's discovery, Chattanooga Preparatory Athletic Director Christoffer Collins said there was initial confusion as to whether the video was directed at Chattanooga Preparatory.

"I thought the video was directed at us because we beat McCallie on Saturday. Little did I know that the video was made (beforehand)," Collins said in a phone call.

Chattanooga Preparatory Principal Diamond Kelley said the video wasn't aimed at or sent to anyone in particular but had been circulated among student-athletes and the community late last week.

"It's to my knowledge that this was not sent to any one of my (students)," Kelley said in a phone call. "This was not sent to a boy here."

Chattanooga Preparatory CEO Brad Scott said McCallie administrators responded appropriately.

"We were able to get in contact with them, and their administration was very responsive and expressed strong discontent of the words in the video," Scott said in a phone call.

In the video, two students can be seen and heard using derogatory, violent language and racial slurs. They appear to have an imaginary, one-sided conversation with someone they repeatedly refer to as "boy."

"We'll get back to the 1850s, boy, boy, boy. You're going to be on your knees calling me master before you know it, boy," one of the students said as part of the dialogue, which also makes reference to a whip.

The student then proceeds to make monkey sounds.

The video then cuts to a second student who says he isn't afraid "of you, boy."

The first student reappears.

"I'll show you what my ancestors did to your kind," he said.

The expletive-laden video uses not just the n-word but also a more archaic racial slur starting with j.

"I'll burn you on a m--- f--- cross, j---," one of the students says. "Disgrace to your f--- kind, boy. I'll get my suit on and meet you in southern f--- Alabama and burn your n--- a---."

McCallie Head of School Lee Burns sent an email to students and staff Monday about the incident.

"What was said on that video saddens and angers me in many ways, most especially for our Black students," Burns said in his email. "I am sorry for the pain and hurt it caused. There is no place at McCallie for making comments that demean an individual based on race, religion, country, sexual orientation, ethnicity or any other identity marker.

"There are consequences for doing so, up to and including expulsion. As much as we grieve the pain of this isolated incident, I'm grateful for the many ways and the vast majority of the times when our boys extend empathy and understanding to one another, when they love and care for each other, when they listen and learn from those with different backgrounds and beliefs, when they stand up for each other and take a stand for that which is right. More work, though, remains to be done, and it takes an intentional and ongoing effort from all of us."

Civil rights activist Marie Mott, who ran unsuccessfully for City Council in the last election cycle, posted the video to her Instagram account.

"McCallie, even though it is an institution on its own, it is still in the Greater Chattanooga community," Mott said in a phone call. "There is a direct impact to what has been said to the surrounding African American community. ... They owe an apology. Not only to, I think the students and giving them a voice, but I think they owe an apology to the city of Chattanooga."

Mott said what disturbed her most about the video wasn't the racial slurs but the ease of which they were said.

"To make a statement such as that, and say it out loud -- and there was another young man who didn't say too much but he co-signed what the other boy was saying-- that's indicative of a comfortable culture where you can say stuff like that out loud if you feel that there's not going to be any consequences," Mott said.

She added that she questions the culture at McCallie and wonders if the school is too often silent when incidents like this occur.

"That was the thing that was a little bit more concerning to me more than just calling Black people names and dehumanizing us as people," Mott said. "I think I was more concerned about the fact that somebody has taught this young man that we deserve to be burned alive. That is so troublesome to me. And that should be troublesome to (McCallie) with children of color on their campus."

McCallie parent Karlene Claridy, whose son is a senior at the school, said while she was outraged by the video, it was an isolated incident.

"The culture at McCallie is that they are inclusive," Claridy said in a phone call. "And they are constantly taught about the respect of each other, of brotherhood."

She said racism isn't tolerated at the school, and the student in the video likely learned the behavior at home.

"It's 2023," Claridy said. "Just the racial tones still that exist, it's just a constant reminder that we have made progress but there's so much further that we have to go."

McCallie officials said the incident was not representative of their school or ethics.

"We regularly educate our boys on their responsibilities in how they treat one another," a school spokesperson said in an email. "We are having conversations with students, faculty and parents to grieve, support each other, share ideas and grow even closer together as a community.

"We as a school, along with our society, have ways we can better love our neighbors as the Bible commands, and we as a school are committed to doing the hard work and often messy work and sometimes discouraging work of fostering individuals who will love and serve one another as they make a positive difference in a difficult world."

Contact Carmen Nesbitt at or 423-757-6327.