Racist incidents persistent on C. K. McClatchy campus



Juliana Castro, C. K. McClatchy High School

Over the past couple of years, C.K. McClatchy High School has become no stranger to racist incidents during Black History Month.  

On Feb. 3 of this year, a student posted a video on their Instagram that used racial slurs like the n-word, and spread the message that Black History Month does not matter and should not be celebrated. The viral video spread thro

On Feb. 11, 2022, the school discovered racist graffiti above the water fountains near the gym written by a freshman student. The theory behind her intention was to make a joke but it was not taken lightly.  One fountain was labeled White, the other Black. Different water fountains for White and Black students is a discriminatory practice which roots back to the Jim Crow era. The student responsible was suspended.

Will racist incidents occur at CKM every year during every Black History Month?

“There will always be people who desire to create hatred whenever there is a celebration of blackness,” said Black Student Union president Arianne McCullough after this year’s incident. “The same young man who posted that video will continue to listen to hip-hop and rap, talk in Black lingo, and engage in activities that are intrinsically black. Because all he wanted was a little extra attention from the video, which is why he told the individual who recorded it to do so and included his Instagram handle in it.”

CKM principal Andrea Egan, in an interview following the 2022 incident, said racism cannot be fixed overnight, and that it is important to do the continuous work that ultimately can make a difference. 

I think we need to keep our foot on the gas pedal and we can’t think we’re ever done,” she said. “The work is never done, assuring that students feel safe to come to school and that they can be on school grounds and not face a racist event.”

Egan added, “All (McClatchy High) students are receiving some basic education in the history of our people and race and relationships around race. But obviously, there needs to be a more comprehensive understanding and relationship building given that something like this could occur.”

This year, the school advertised and encouraged parents to participate in Black Parent Involvement Day, a special welcoming event for families where they could learn more about the school and visit their children’s classrooms. The aim was to help families to feel connected to the school and know that CKM educators are invested in the well-being and growth of Black students. 

Egan also held a “listening circle,” where students who wished to express their voices in a safe space could be heard.

The school is also working to provide anti-bias and anti-racism instructional sessions as part of the freshman orientation days this summer for the 2023-2024 school year. 

“Our hope is that this will become a new norm for orientation, with touchpoints throughout the year to revisit these important topics,” Egan said. “We will also continue our behavior assembly for the whole school every fall to inform students about the consequences of making racist statements or posts, and the school’s intolerance for such acts.

“Students should also understand that spreading racist and hurtful commentary online may fall under the schools jurisdiction if it impacts the ability of targeted students to feel safe at school.” 

Meanwhile, SCUSD campus culture experts have provided “healing circle” opportunities when an incident occurs. They also are working to provide anti-racism training to school administrators and to teachers, in order to increase the school’s capacity to instruct and support students around topics of race and equity.

Following the 2022 incident, the Black Student Union held a Zoom meeting for all classes to log into and have a civil conversation about the incident and discuss racism. But members said it was exhausting having to deal with the constant backlash against Black History Month, and that to resolve the problem, Whites had to be willing to educate themselves. 

At the time, then-BSU president Zheriah Marshall said, “I just want to say that maintaining an ignorant mindset is the reason we’re going through things like this today and we will continue to push for these conversations at school until there is change.” 

But Marshall went on to say, “It is every individual’s responsibility to educate themselves and take into account the history of the United States and segregation laws. Black people are not the only ones to access of Black history nor is it their responsibility to educate the masses. I don’t think it should be any black person’s responsibility unless there is an opportunity to correct and educate someone.”

“But,” he added, “other than those specific times, people should take their own time to actually educate themselves and learn more in-depth about black history, like we’ve all had to do.”