His Classmates Called Him the N-Word. What This 12-Year-Old Did Next Will Melt Your Heart.

Tarrick Walker stood up to racism and bullying—and inspired others to do the same.

Tarrick Walker with his parents, Darlene and Marcel. Courtesy of John Walker/Fresno Bee

Tarrick Walker was playing basketball with a group of friends at his California school when the 12-year-old heard a group of seventh-graders say something.

He stopped playing basketball and walked over. “What’s happening?” he asked the group.

The response, as Walker recounted it to the Fresno Bee: “Get out, you dumb N-word.”

He and his friends were shocked. But Walker and his parents turned it around, and his friends took part, too. Within days, the Walker family printed and gave away 100 blue “stop bullying” T-shirts at Walker’s school. Two hundred more were ordered, and wristbands were made with the same message.

The back of each T-shirt reads: “Racism, Gossiping, Threats, Cyber bullying, Lies, Insults, Rumors, Shaming. MUST END”

“What really made me feel good was that my friends and other kids on the basketball courts stood up for me and told him to stop saying what he did,” Walker said in a Facebook video. “That made me think about how lucky I was to have such great friends and classmates.”

Walker’s father, Marcel, added, “If we as adults can teach our kids that bullying is not useful today or ever…we can literally eradicate the hate and the pushing around of adults in the future.”

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  • It started with a few pounds. Thirty-five years ago, Jeannie Rice started running. She wanted to shed the weight she’d gained visiting family in South Korea.

    Within a year, she had run her first marathon. Then, at the Chicago Marathon this month, Rice broke the world record for female marathoners age 70 or over.

    She didn’t just break the record—she destroyed it. At 3:27:50, Rice, 70, completed the race more than 7 and a half minutes faster than ever recorded for a woman in her age group. Even in the younger, age 60 to 69 women’s group, only one runner beat her—one-time American gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, who is 61.

    What’s Rice’s secret? Running at 5:30 a.m. back home and training with stronger, younger runners, many of them men.

    Her teenage granddaughters brag about her, she says. “They tell all their friends, ‘Oh, my grandma, for her 5Ks are nothing. She runs marathons.'” (Runner’s World)

  • “We all have to stick together.” He’d been in Ireland since age 2, after his dad died and he fled with his mom and older brother from Nigeria.

    In June, Irish authorities said he and his family would be deported, but Nonso Muojeke’s schoolmates wouldn’t have it.

    They organized rallies and got 22,000 people to sign petitions urging Ireland to let 14-year-old Muojeke and his family stay. The Irish government agreed earlier this month.

    “You guys were with me through everything, you didn’t turn your backs on me…and I’m really thankful,” Muojeke told classmates.

    They responded that the mission went beyond their friendship. “I feel like it doesn’t matter who it is,” said Sofia Sheils. “We all have to stick together. We all have to fight for our rights.” (RTÉ News)

  • The veteran reporter, at 12. Hilde Lysiak has been breaking stories for years. The Washington Post profiled her at age 9.

    Not yet a teen, Lysiak was the first to report a murder story in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, and she has written about drugs in her local high school. She’s also writing a series of children’s books with her father for Scholastic, modeled on her stories. Apple is making a television show based on her life.

    When she was younger, her father, then a journalist at the New York Daily News, would take her with him on reporting trips, including to Florida to cover Trayvon Martin’s slaying and to South Carolina to cover the Charleston church mass shooting.

    Her advice for aspiring young reporters? Have parents who respect you and give you independence.

    “Kids are a lot smarter than adults think. I have friends who are way smarter than I am but because they are stuck inside their house or school all day no one knows,” Lysiak said. “The best thing about my parents is that they get out of the way.”

    Thanks to Carolyn Ryan for this suggestion. (Bright Lite)

  • Saying yes to second chances. An unlikely coalition is behind a move to give back the vote to as many as 1.4 million Floridians who have served their time.

    The ballot measure, called Amendment 4, would automatically restore voting rights to ex-felons in Florida (with the exception of those convicted of murder or a sexual offense). Florida is one of only four states that indefinitely bar ex-felons from voting, along with Iowa, Kentucky, and Virginia. The measure has backing from groups across the political spectrum, and an early poll puts support for the measure at 74 percent, including 61 percent support from Republicans.

    Catch reporter Ari Berman talk about Florida’s initiative on the Mother Jones Podcast. (Mother Jones)

Have a Recharge story of your own or an idea to make this column better? Fill out the form below or send me a note to me at recharge@motherjones.com.

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