AUHSD is Not Doing Enough to Combat Racism

By Zoe Edelman, Graphics Manager

// It is pathetic that the spread of a 38-second video of brazen, horrifying racist dialogue by Acalanes Union High School District (AUHSD) students was the catalyst for addressing racism within the Lamorinda community.

   As a member of this community, I believe there is a culture that we care about current events and issues, but we just don’t think they apply to us. Lamorinda is a large culprit of performative activism, meaning we march at the right moments and post quotes and pictures to our social media accounts to create the image that we care. However, the reality is that after the media coverage, things don’t change. 

   In a Blueprint interview, Acalanes High School Principal Travis Bell discusses an instance of punishment with a student that said the n-word. 

   “[The use of the n-word] resulted in both discipline for that student who said the word in the form of a detention, but also, the restorative part of that was learning about why that word is inappropriate and not to be used,” Bell said.

   Campolindo High School Principal John Walker wrote a similar response in lieu of the racist video, stating that “administrative discipline for racist behavior is essential, but it will not be sufficient to create the type of positive school culture our students deserve.”

   Both statements emphasize that punishment is not enough and that the severity of hate speech should also be remedied with prevention. While I agree with this, I’m not seeing a follow-through. Neither administrator is stating direct actions they are going to take to combat racism in our district. 

   Bell himself said, “Once we know better, we can do better.” If this is true, why hasn’t the administration done better in the past? We cannot let promises of change overshadow the case of racist videos. As a student body and as a community, we need to demand better and see-through that the students in the video receive proper consequences. 

  Education instigates action. All students should be required to attend events like the Diversity Summit or Breaking Down the Walls. Our education should be diverse, not euro-centric. There should be emphasis on world culture, civil rights movements, diverse voices throughout history. We should learn the meaning of bias and privilege and how it acts in our society.

   I want my school to set a progressive example and to align itself with the growing movement for change. Lamorinda schools should strive to engage in tough conversations, preach accountability, and create change. We should lead by example. 

  What I’m seeing from AUHSD is a response, but not a reaction. After attending a couple of AUHSD Governing Board meetings via Zoom, the progression I saw seemed minimal. What I experienced was a Google Slide presentation and a description of an ethnic studies course. To me, this appears to check a box the Board feels they are required to fulfill. However, I have yet to see any convincing sorrow and empathy from the Governing Board. After speaking about district change, Amy McNamara’s claim that they ‘will work harder” did not settle with me succeeding heartbreaking stories from our community. If the board can’t even convince us they will change, how can we expect it?

  The school should extend its efforts to the Black Lives Matter movement and hold students accountable for their actions. They should take initiative and look at the various types of trauma students are put through on this campus. Numerous slurs, objectifying comments, and bullying reek the halls of our schools. The administration must take note of how it affects students’ education. 

   I am writing as a student voice. In August, I will be the one to step foot in the halls and experience the culture of the school, changed or unchanged. In every classroom, there’s a sign that reads, “In this classroom, we have no tolerance for racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, or any other offensive remarks”. I want to walk through the door and believe it. 

3 Replies to “AUHSD is Not Doing Enough to Combat Racism”

    1. Yes, thank you for this. I completely agree, and I’d take it much further – a comprehensive and inclusive history of both the united states and the world need to be fully and completely integrated into the education in the district – workshops and elective courses are absolutely inadequate, performative, and quite frankly, insulting. This education needs to start at the elementary and preferably the pre-school grade levels, since racist ideologies solidify in childhood development by age 5. What is the district doing to educate its students about punitive and racist systems, inclluding those implemented by the school, itself, and by the wider criminal justice system? What is the school doing to fully integrate education about white privilege into its curriculum? What is the district doing to educate students about the land on which this district and residents now sit, which was stolen from murdered indigenous peoples? Peoples whose names have ben forgotten and replaced by the name their oppressors gave them and for which the district is now named? What are you doing about promptly changing the Don mascot? What is the school doing to educate its students about blaring previous and current omissions in their education and apologize for supporting these omissions while simultaneously lying to parents and students, touting a “high quality of education” in the district? What is the district doing to create safe and welcoming spaces for both black-identified and non-black-identified students of color? What is the district currently doing to fire and encourage resignations among white administrators and faculty members so that they may be replaced with BIPOC and POC administrators and faculty members? What is the district doing to actively incentivize BIPOC and other POC families and students to attend its district? What is the district doing to collect funds distributed to it by STAR test results highly correlated with the privilege and the resources of the parents in this district to pay reparations to marginalized students in underfunded schools elsewhere? And finally, “once we know better we will do better?” Your job as an educator IS TO KNOW BETTER. FIGURE IT OUT. READ SOURCE MATERIAL AND PEER REVIEWED LITERATURE. Either you are admitting how unqualified you are to do the job that you are doing, or you can simply read everythign I’ve written and start by educating yourself here. Read Discipline and Punish. Read Between the World and Me. Read Invisible Man. Read Assata. Read Lies My Teacher Told Me. Make these books a part of your curriculum. Perhaps you can use these to replace the elementary-school level books that were required reading in my own high school courses at

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