SALINAS, Calif. — A Salinas student said she’s heard racial slurs on campus since elementary school. As a freshman, she fears walking down the hallways of Alisal High School.
Parents, students, educators, and community members attended Tuesday’s Salinas Union High School District (SUHSD) board meeting to voice their concern regarding a group of students who allegedly defaced a Black doll during Salinas High School’s jamboree event last week.
An Instagram account was created for the doll that Salinas High School students named “Shaniqua.” Photos show markings on the doll that appear to be an ankle monitor bracelet drawn around the doll’s ankle and scribble marks on the face. In a video posted on TikTok, several students are seen stomping on the doll.
Since the video was posted, students have come forward to share their experience with racism on SUHSD campuses.
“It’s not just the Friday jamboree, it’s Monday when I go to school and I hear the ‘N’ word in the hallways,” said an Alisal High School senior, who introduced herself as Belinda. “… in my math class when they won’t listen to my opinion because apparently Latinas don’t know math.”
Many residents have asked whether the students who appeared in the video would face repercussions.
“I don’t want this to be minimized as just a joke or silly kids,” said Jordana Henry, a parent, teacher, and leader in the school’s Black Girl Magic Club. “This is white supremacy.”
SUHSD Superintendent Dan Burns said the consequences for those involved include suspension, removal from extracurricular activities, and mandatory attendance in restorative justice and healing sessions.
Several students claim that the Salinas High School principal and other faculty members have made racially insensitive remarks in the past. Additionally, one Alisal student said that some Salinas High School staff knew about the doll but didn’t act until the social media post.
District administrators are investigating the incident and will request a third party investigator to look into accusations made against to the high school principal and staff, Burns said.
“As a community, we are surely appalled by this incident and our students must be our focus as we unpack the layers,” Burns said. “I have heard from almost 1,000 students and I feel the pain and trauma in their words. Moving forward, we will create safe spaces on our campuses to embrace our students’ voices and let them lead us to the change they seek and deserve… We, the SUHSD community, must do better.”
Parents and community members asked the district to take action to prevent future incidents of racism on campus and for ethnic studies courses at all Salinas Union high schools.
“These problems have been minimized and swept under the rug and now we’re taking the rug,” Henry said.
In the meantime, Building Healthy Communities, a local community-based organization supporting engagement and leadership, is launching a countywide racial equity earning to action cohort. Their goal is to battle racial inequities in the county. BHC leaders helped organize this meeting.
“It makes me feel proud to see the youth turnout because that’s part of our mission, building power, building resident leadership, uplifting youth and cultivating them into the leaders that they are destined to be,” community advocate Rosalyn Green said.
Green took part in starting the SUHSD African American Advisory council.
“I want people to take away accountability, call out racism for what it is white supremacy and even more so I want healing to start to happen,” she said. “If we started here in our country then it can flourish throughout our nation because it is so necessary, so needed and it is way past time.”
Follow David Rodriguez on Twitter: @visualdavid
Defaced Black doll leads to calls against racism at California school