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Black Teen Heartbroken After Yearbook Tribute To His Late Grandma Is Changed To Racist Insult

CBC News: The National / YouTube

Earlier this week, Ontario teen Joshua Telemaque should have had one of the happiest days of his life. His 18th birthday and recent graduation from St. Mary Catholic Secondary School sounded like things any teen would want to celebrate.

But Telemaque’s happy occasion was tarnished by a racist prank. Last week, his intended yearbook quote paying tribute to his late grandmother was replaced with a reference to Harambe, the gorilla killed at a Cincinnati zoo in 2016.

It made for an emotional time.

Telemaque’s yearbook quote was meant to honor his grandmother, who had a profound impact on the young man growing up. He wanted to become someone kind like her.

The original yearbook quote read:

“RIP Grandma. Thank you for guiding me through my four years of high school.”

After a unique experience for his senior year, with the pandemic interfering with normal school life, Telemaque was excited to get his yearbook. However, when he finally did, he was horrified at the replaced quote.

Now, his yearbook quote read:

“Rip Harambe Dooga booga.O”

Telemaque was heartbroken.

His family was supportive and took the issue to the school. It was discovered some other yearbook quotes were also changed, so the books were recalled.

The district is working with the police on an investigation into the incident.

Durham Regional Police said:

“We assure you that this offensive act of misconduct, disrespect and racism is taken seriously.”

As appreciative as the family is for the investigation, Telemaque said the pain he felt from seeing his tribute changed to a racist insult wouldn’t go away.

Despite that, he is still glad for the outpouring of love and well wishes from everyone.

After the story of Telemaque’s yearbook went viral, many shared their support for the teen.

A long line of vehicles drove down the street for Telemaque’s drive by birthday.

From family and friends to strangers to Toronto athletes and broadcasters, all sent well wishes for his birthday.

Mike Hogan of the Toronto Argonauts even presented Telemaque with a four-year scholarship to a university of his choice.

Hogan said:

“If there’s one issue that gets us fired up, it’s bullying. We’re angry about this.”

“We wanted to show him that we have his back. This really hit home.”

Telemaque was speechless and grateful for the outpouring of love.

“I’m so appreciative, so grateful for this. It just touched my heart. It’s special to me, it means the world to me right now.”

Ben Acosta

Written by Ben Acosta

Ben Acosta is an Arizona-based fiction author and freelance writer. In his free time, he critiques media and acts in local stage productions.