More than a thousand students and alumni from Concord High School are asking officials to condemn racism in the school district.
In an online petition, they’re calling for officials to publicly support Black Lives Matter, remove police from school, diversify staff and curriculum, and call out racism in the classroom when they see it.
“Students have repeatedly voiced their concerns regarding racial injustices throughout the district. You have repeatedly chosen to ignore or minimize their voices,” organizers of the petition wrote. “Students have voiced that their race dictates their experience of safety in school buildings. Students have voiced their concerns, and you have failed them.”
The petition was co-written and led by Seneth Waterman, a 2012 graduate from Concord High School. A small group of alumni also contributed to the petition.
“It is appalling to me,” said Stephanie Yee, a graduate from 2012, who helped write the letter. “It took a very large petition from adults who have moved on from this community, to have to come back to provide aid to Black and Brown students who are fighting for their own justice. Students are not being taken as seriously as they should.”
Yee is a Black, biracial woman. While in school, Yee said she faced racial slurs and taunts. In one incident, a student in middle school said, “What’s up my N-word.” She said the teacher apologized for the student’s behavior. Then the teacher hugged her in front of her classmates.
“I just froze, I didn’t know how to deal with it,” Yee said. “I was crying at that point, I was so embarrassed.”
She says what stung the most was when students called her “oreo.”
“It was suggested that I wasn’t Black enough,” Yee said.
Myles Luongo is 18 and graduated from Concord High School this year. He says any time he wore a red or blue outfit, classmates accused him of being in a gang. When learning about slavery, Luongo says students looked to him for advice. In eighth grade, he says a student called him a monkey. And the teacher did not reprimand the student.
“There’s no comfortable way of talking to somebody and saying, ‘Hey I think I was experiencing someone being racist to me.’ There’s was no outlet to talk to somebody about that,” Luongo said.
Concord Schools interim superintendent Kathleen Murphy told the Concord Monitor she plans to contact the organizers and listen to their concerns.
The students are sending their petition to school administrators on Monday ahead of a district-wide school board meeting.