African American leaders hold press conference about racially charged incidents at MVHS

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Community members took turns responding to questions and making statements in front of a sign that said The Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet. “I think what really needs to be said is how much [do]black living lives matter?” community activist and educator Malick Brown said. Photo by Shayon Moradi.

Community members took turns responding to questions and making statements in front of a sign that said The Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet. “I think what really needs to be said is how much [do] black living lives matter?” community activist and educator Malick Brown said. Photo by Shayon Moradi.

Community activists held a press conference on June 13 at 11 a.m. at the African American Community Service Agency (AACSA) in San Jose regarding racially charged incidents at MVHS. The allegations stated that a group of MVHS students created a “kill list” in an online chat targeting African American students in September of 2016, and a picture was allegedly taken on a school computer screen in April 2017 with a message about killing African American people, which was presented at the conference. The speakers stood around a podium addressing community members and a crowd of cameras from media organizations including NBC Bay Area, The Mercury News, CBS San Francisco Bay Area, KTVU 2 and KRON 4.

On June 12 at 4:57 p.m., NBC Bay Area reported on a group of students from MVHS that allegedly created a “kill list” with the names of every African-American student at the school, which is 0.2 percent of the MVHS student population. The private Instagram chat in question came to the attention of the MVHS administration on Sept. 29, at which point administration took disciplinary action and passed screenshots of the chat on to the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office for investigation. The administration could not disclose the nature of the disciplinary action, as releasing the information to the public would violate the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) laws. A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed in October by El Estoque for the police report showed that while “deputies responded to school for online cyber bullying,” there was “no report taken.”

El Estoque published a news story about the chat on Oct. 19, which the editorial board voluntarily agreed to temporarily take down from its website and Issuu account on Feb. 8 at the request of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s office as a result of a re-opened ongoing investigation. The investigation was reopened due to a former MVHS parent who claimed in February that her daughter was targeted in the chat, and said that she felt school administrators did not do enough to address the situation, including not contacting the parents of the kids whose names were listed on the “kill list.” The parent transferred her daughter to another school in the district, and filed a civil complaint against the Fremont Union High School District, which the district has not yet received.

The family’s attorney, Richard Richardson, also alleges that another racially charged incident occurred in April 2017 and involved a message on a school computer, which said that the writer’s goal for the day was to “Lynch n—–.” Richardson showed a picture at the conference. In light of both of these occurrences, the AACSA held the press conference, where Richardson talked about the future of the case in his desire to find out more about what happened and how he initially got involved.

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Richardson talks with Marianne Favro from NBC Bay Area. Other news organizations, such as The Mercury News, CBS San Francisco Bay Area, KTVU 2 and KRON 4, were also in attendance. Photo by Chetana Ramaiyer.

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malicktitleMalick Brown, an educator and community activist, discussed why he felt this topic needed to be addressed in the community, due to the severity of the language in the chat discussion.

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Brown believes that the safety of the students on campus should always come first.

“From an educator’s point of view, it’s not rocket science,” Brown said. “If students are put in environments in which they don’t feel safe, then they’re not going to be able to learn as much.”

rosstitleRoss Pusey, who is part of both the Alliance of Black and Brown Advocates and the Black Leadership Kitchen Cabinet as well, said that occurrences like this are not anything new. Growing up as an African American student in San Jose, he said he constantly saw racial backlash against students.

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He hopes that people will continue to speak out about racially charged actions.

“I’m really hoping for and looking for more newspaper groups from different high schools to really speak out about what’s really going on,” Pusey said.

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About Author

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ZaZu Lippert is a junior and she is a News editor for the print magazine. She was formerly a Special Report editor for the print magazine. This is her second year on staff, and when she's not writing and editing for El Estoque, she enjoys to singing, dancing, playing piano and acting.

  • Andrew Goldenkranz

    Thanks for staying on this issue. Solving problems and facing forward is what we all want.

  • Meta

    Very sad to see that not much has changed here over the years. As these blog posts from 2010/2011 show, this attitude has been around for a long time (taken from mvdgmh.wordpress.com):

    “Today, I was talking to someone and we got onto the topic of schools in our district. We talked about Lynbrook and Cupertino, and then started talking about Homestead and Fremont. I mentioned someone I knew at Fremont to which their response was “Fremont is such a bad school! There are so many African Americans there and barely any Asians.” I stared at them, and then shook my head in disgust and walked away. Racism and being close minded at MVDGMH”

    “It’s sad how many misconceptions students that Monta Vista seem to have about other schools. For a school that is supposed to be open, diverse, etc. this is hardly the case if you hear a lot of students talking. For example, I’ve heard people say that “Homestead isn’t a good school because it has too many white people” and Fremont is “scary because it has a lot of black people and not many Asians.” It’s pathetic that there are people like this who in reality, are completely unaware of how the “real world” functions and keep in their narrow-minded, sheltered bubble. It’s people like that that is the reason why MDGMH.”

    I only hope that students here learn that this type of attitude is not okay, and are more exposed to the outside world when they leave Monta Vista.