Three Valencia High School students were sentenced after they filmed themselves laughing and repeatedly shouting the N-word while riding in a car on school grounds. According to the Los Angeles Times, the video was uploaded on social media, and the children repeatedly said the racist epithet while listening to a song with lyrics like “I don’t like n—.”
During a press conference last Tuesday, the Santa Clarita NAACP chapter, the William S. Hart Union High School District, and community leaders discussed the event. However, because the pupils are minors, district officials did not provide specifics on the type of punishment they will face.
“They then chose to share that hate speech by posting it on social media for thousands to see,” Santa Clarita chapter president of the NAACP, Valerie Bradford, said. “Their actions of course spread like wildfire and the African American students on the campus once again felt fearful and alone and singled out.”
The president of the Black Student Union at Valencia High School, Antonia Esi, also condemned the incident by referencing a quote from civil rights activist Angela Davis. “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept,” Esi said.
“The act of violence against Black people inflicted by these girls in these videos are one of the things I cannot accept. Walking in the hallways of Valencia High School and hearing the voices in this video echoing from phones to mouths is an act of violence we cannot accept either.”
Supt. Mike Kuhlman also registered his displeasure over how unbothered the students were when they repeatedly uttered the racial slur. “The Hart District will not condone this type of hate speech, and we have taken proactive steps to ensure that it is our intention to promote an equitable, safe and inclusive environment for all of our students,” Kuhlman said in a statement.
Kuhlman added that the district has since taken “strong, proactive steps to send the message that this type of blatant racism” will not be entertained.
School district board member Cherise Moore, however, said the students’ actions did not really come as a surprise to many. “To have many others reach out to say their child wasn’t surprised by this video or that it isn’t rare that the word is used at school, well, it’s eye-opening in many ways,” said Moore. “It helps me recognize that we have a lot of work to do as the board.”
This is not the first time an incident of this kind has occurred at Valencia High School. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, four kids who filed a racial discrimination case against the school district in 2018 obtained a $300,000 settlement.
The students accused the district of doing nothing to address chronic racism and bias at the school, and they also claimed that authorities did not respond to parent feedback. The students claimed to have overheard insulting remarks such as “white power” and “return to Africa” while attending Valencia High School. They also claimed to have seen swastikas, iron crosses, and other racist signs on the school grounds, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Moore said she will provide the district officials with a list of recommendations that will help tackle racism and bias in the school district. “We need to have continued training that lets us take a deep look at some of the issues around racism that people are sometimes too uncomfortable to have,” Moore said. “I also want students to understand the impacts of certain behaviors on groups of students.”