Last month, students at Escondido High School decided to play a prank by using letters on T-shirts to spell out the n-word. But in today’s world nothing stays private and the picture soon ended up on the Internet creating a nationwide stir.
School officials said the students would face disciplinary measures, but didn’t go into details. The incident was also investigated by local police.
“We are a campus that prides itself on inclusion and embraces diversity,” said Principal Adriana Lepe-Ramirez, in a press statement.
But even more disturbing is these kinds of incidents are happening across the nation. Teachers have reported a rise in racially-based bullying ever since Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign.
Sacramento area schools have faced their share of racial incidents. Earlier this year, a local student was featured in a social media video wearing blackface and using the n-word.
And these incidents are happening more frequently. Rachael Francois, a senior at Pleasant Grove High School, Sacramento said she noticed a rise in racial comments after 2016. In February, a student at C.K. McClatchy High School in Sacramento tried to present a science project claiming that black students were intellectually inferior because they had lower test scores.
But Matt Pinsker, adjunct professor of Homeland Security and Criminal Justice at L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, Virginia Commonwealth University, said statistic show the country is becoming more diverse.
“The hard data which has been gathered showing people are less racist and more tolerant flies in the face of many perceptions,” said Pinsker. “Unfortunately, much of the media focuses on the extremists on the margins, and not on mainstream America. In a country of 330 million people, you will always be able to find idiots saying and doing things which are completely unacceptable. The internet has simply given those idiots more of a voice an platform than they previously would have had. Also, there is also no denying that there has been an increase in identity politics which has been damaging to the social fabric and political climate of the nation.”
David Lehrer, president of Community Advocates, Inc., a Los Angeles non-profit that promotes human and race relations, said although studies show millennials are more open minded, diversity hasn’t trickled down to the whole group.
“These events happen and will, most assuredly, continue no matter what the majority of youngsters believe. There are always angry, unhappy people who blame others for what they are unhappy about,” said Lehrer, who previously worked with Anti-Defamation League.
But he added that many bigots feel emboldened under President Donald Trump.
“I have no doubt, from the perspective of someone who has been in the civil rights field for over 40 years, that the current political climate allows intolerance and bigotry to be expressed and for bigots to feel empowered,” said Lehrer. “The reaction to ‘political correctness’ and the effort to impose constraints of civility and decency have allowed intolerant folks to feel unshackled.
After all, if the president of the United States can openly express hostility to ethnic and religious groups and single out the handicapped and the unusual—’why shouldn’t they?’”