by Sasha Ryu
Five days after the video of George Floyd’s murder took the world by storm, an account with the username @lghskoolkidsklub (Los Gatos High School KKK) surfaced on Instagram, setting off an uproar within the community. The private account, which has since been taken down, was one among several other “KKK” pages targeted towards Bay Area students. Before it was deactivated by Instagram, the self-proclaimed “Los Gatos chapter” had a bio that read: “Stop the white genocide!” Their description also advertised links to follow @whskoolkidsklub (Wilcox High School KKK), @harkerkoolkidsklub (Harker KKK), and @shskoolkidsklub (Saratoga High School KKK).
Throughout the night, the admins of the accounts followed dozens of LGHS students, seemingly in attempts to provoke as many people as possible. After getting students’ attention, the anonymous group began posting digital fliers promoting a “KKK Rally,” supposedly set to take place at Wilcox High on June 6. On the LGHS account alone, the users featured images of a cartoon klansman, a Confederate flag, and a graphic parody of the Black Lives Matter symbol – all on top of repeatedly using the n-word.
When asked to identify themselves over direct message, the owners of the account responded: “We cannot disclose membership unless you are elected to be on our board. Please follow the other schools’ charters for more info.”
Upon further questioning, the admins stated: “This is not a joke. If those animals want a race war, the side with guns will obviously win[,] and you can guess which side that is haha. It will begin soon… be ready.”
Local law enforcement, the district’s IT employees, and all four of the schools’ administrations have since gotten involved to investigate the people who organized the accounts.
Less than 24 hours after the incidents involving the KKK accounts took place, a Snapchat video of an LGHS freshman sparked a similar controversy. In her video, the student states: “If it weren’t for those people of color, a lot of the stuff we have… we wouldn’t have. We wouldn’t have the clothes that we have. They are our cotton-pickers, they are our field workers. No white person are you gonna see out in the fields, all day, all night… picking, completely throwing out their backs… doing it since they were nine or younger. No white person does that. So, it’s unbelievable to be killing the people who give us the resources that we need.”
The video quickly circulated on social media, where many found it offensive to see a young light-skinned girl refer to people of color as “cotton-pickers.” The backlash now extends far beyond the confines of the LGHS community, due to a screen recording of the student’s comments being posted to Twitter.
On June 1, LGHS Principal Kristina Grasty sent out a school-wide email and video message, condemning the recent events. In her video message, entitled “Important Message to the School Community,” Principal Grasty stated: “I know that this past week has been especially hard with what has been shown in the media, including images of the murder of George Floyd… We have also, very regrettably, experienced some online racist incidents as a school community… I know that these incidents have deeply upset and disturbed many of you. I also know that many of us who are not people of color in no way can fully imagine the impact these kinds of horrific, racist incidents have on people who are. We have students, staff, and families who are outraged, and feel the pain on a profoundly personal level because they… are of a background that has led to them being marginalized.”
In her written statement following the video, Principal Grasty made it a point to acknowledge other recent incidents of racist behavior that took place at the school, including the “class intrusion on Google Meet… involving an unknown number/person interrupting the class using the n-word.”
She went on to announce that, starting next year, the school is “going deeper in [their] work to promote a campus climate that is respectful, compassionate, and inclusive of all,” and that they plan to “provide learning for all grade levels to build and strengthen our capacity for cultural understanding and respect for others.”
According to US News, the LGHS student body currently consists of:
- 67 percent white students
- 12 percent Asian students
- 11 percent mixed-race students
- 10 percent Hispanic students
- 0.3 percent black students
To put it in simpler terms, there are approximately six black students at a school serving 2,170. Junior Elizabeth Madison is one of those six students. In an interview, Madison stated: “One thing that really opened my eyes during the social media situation is just how little shock I actually felt seeing these hate groups emerge under Los Gatos’s name. When I saw it, I was floored. But it also felt so predictable. The [use of the] n-word and racial slurs are extremely common at Los Gatos. There hasn’t been a day since my freshman year where I haven’t heard something racist. N-word passes, promposals, you name it.
Seeing the accounts made me angry, not surprised. What surprised me more is the amount of students who were surprised. I talked to a lot of students who told me they were in shock with the hate accounts, saying that LG isn’t racist, so it didn’t make sense. Up until this point it didn’t register with me how sensitive I am towards racist comments/undertones compared to the average student.
I really think the school needs to bring more awareness to the subtle acts of racism that occur each day in our [community]. It shouldn’t take big acts from extremist groups for us to really educate our students on the dangers of prejudice. It’s the same with the Twitter/Snapchat situation. It’s hurtful to students of color to see racism fly under the radar for so long. I hope from now on things start to change and racism in our school system is finally addressed in its entirety.”
(Sources: US News, Public School Review, lghs.net)