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.