Cries of racism and demands for swift and strong justice have all but disappeared after it was revealed that a black student wrote the racist graffiti found at a California high school.
Last week, The Sacramento Bee reported that that the Sacramento City Unified School District was investigating racist graffiti written over a water fountain at C.K. McClatchy High School, noting that the message was a throwback to segregation. The perpetrator wrote “colored” over one side of a dual-water fountain and “white” over the other. After a picture of the graffiti spread over social media, activists quickly expressed outrage, even though most instances of alleged hate messages in schools have turned out to be hoaxes perpetrated by students of color.
Before any suspect had been identified – and before surveillance footage was even viewed – Sacramento City Unified School District Superintendent Jorge Aguilar condemned the act.
“I am both angry and heartsick that racist graffiti was discovered on the C. K. McClatchy campus today. We take this incident very seriously. Racism and racist language will not be tolerated in our schools,” he said, according to the Bee.
The news of the incident prompted a black father to claim “There’s something about our culture in the Sacramento City school district that has to be addressed.”
“The inequities, the performance of Black kids, the racism, it has to stop,” the father added.
Activists naturally piled on. Berry Accius, founder of nonprofit Voice of Youth, demanded the school district take racist incidents more seriously.
“This is simply an enactment of the 1950s in 2022,” Accius said. “More hateful images and racist rhetoric . Until these schools adopt a more zero tolerance Policy on racist behavior, there will be others bold enough to attempt more racist acts.”
Video surveillance revealed that the perpetrator of the incident is a black female student, CBS Sacramento reported. That student also confessed to writing the message. The news prompted some in the district to backtrack on demands for justice. The district’s race and equity monitor, Mark T. Harris, for example, told the outlet that this wasn’t a hate crime specifically because the color of the perpetrator’s skin.
“I don’t believe those words that were on those water fountains were racist,” Harris said. “I do not believe they were hate crime or hate speech. Part of it quite honestly is because the admitted perpetrator is a young African American woman.”
Accius, the activist, stayed on message, however, saying that the act was still a hate crime.
“I disagree with it not being a hate crime because at the end of the day we understand when you have colored on one water faucet and white on another kind of faucet what that means – whether it’s 1950 or 2022,” Accius said, according to CBS Sacramento.
He and other activists raised doubts about the student’s confession, even though surveillance footage caught her in the act.
Rather than teaching students not to perpetrate hoaxes, the school district announced it would focus more on social justice issues, including “anti-racism training” for staff and a “social emotional learning” approach.
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