by Sonali Muthukrishnan
Soon after the first Black Lives Matter LG protest, I found out that our school district and administration decided not to allow the march to end on the LGHS lawn. My initial reaction to this decision was pure anger. I was furious that LGHS chose not to support a movement that represented and stood up for the students of color at Los Gatos High. I felt betrayed. I’ve come to understand that the district and administration members who made this decision were not making it from my perspective. From their viewpoint, they made a decision that upheld mandatory safety guidelines during a worldwide pandemic. So why did I feel this anger?
LGHS has had its share of racist incidents; however, the administration has attempted to combat them and create a welcoming environment at our high school. While I acknowledge the administration’s efforts, their actions have not successfully reduced racist incidents at LGHS. This persistent racism has become abundantly clear to the student body in the past few weeks. The latest racist occurrences started when LGHS transitioned to online school. In the first month of digital learning, classes faced interruptions by unknown individuals who used racist slurs. Another moment of shame occurred when an Instagram account emerged in support of an LGHS KKK chapter. Then, an LGHS student posted inherently racist statements on her Snapchat account. These encounters and more have plagued the student body and my mind. The administration calling out these racist actions has not been enough to dissuade others from following suit.
At LGHS, we must begin to work towards proactive actions, not reactive ones. We have to create a high school environment where racism is met with zero-tolerance and is no longer culturally acceptable. We must learn how to be citizens in a world filled with different traditions, people, and races. We need to work towards a culture that is appreciative of diversity, not just during Diversity Week, but always. It must permeate all parts of the curriculum and atmosphere we are creating on campus, even if that means spending time feeling uncomfortable. When we are uncomfortable, we are learning and making real change. At the moment, LGHS is doing a disservice to the student body because our campus culture is robbing students of the ability to embrace and accept diversity.
While the administration tells students to come to them in the event of discrimination, students who attend our school do not feel safe openly admitting their troubles. The speeches at the Black Lives Matter LG protests displayed this. We seem to be running in circles of distrust. So what could we do to break this cycle? I hope that our administration can listen to the student body better.
Administration, students who have faced discrimination at LGHS want to tell you what is going on, but you have to help us open this line of communication. When we come to you, you must try and understand our perspective with an open mind. You must prove to us that you are willing to make changes and consistently act when needed. When opportunities arise to support LGHS students who speak out about discrimination and their racial identities, like the BLM LG protest, the administration must work to support these movements in any way possible. Actions like these will help repair this community and the trust within it.
So why did I feel betrayed when I found out LGHS decided not to allow the protest to end on the front lawn? As a person of color, I felt betrayed because the district and administration did not take my perspective into account, even after the countless racist incidents that have occurred at the school. I felt betrayed because Principal Grasty’s speech, in which she addressed recent events, made me believe that the administration pledged to support students in matters of racism and discrimination. LGHS turning down the protest made me feel that the voices of students of color were neither heard nor supported. From my perspective at the time of the rally, turning down the protest was another example of the LGHS administration and district not making racial inclusivity the top priority on their agenda.
I think I can speak for many of the students of color at our high school when I say that I am tired. I am tired of not knowing what will happen if a kid says something racist just because they can. I am tired of being told to speak up, even though it feels like no one is willing to take action to fix these issues deeply rooted in our community. How can the students of color at LGHS be sure that things are going to change? Well, the simple answer is that we cannot. However, we have to have hope that things will change for the better.