“And you all know,” Shakespeare warns in Macbeth, “security is mortals’ chiefest enemy.”
At Palos Verdes High School, this warning has never mattered more, as our security was our downfall in light of the racist promposal picture making the rounds on social media.
When the racist promposal picture hit our social media feeds, the response from African-American students deserve our attention the most: this was not an isolated incident.
Their recounting of hearing the n-word and casual racism among their non-Black peers is a much needed wakeup call in a time where the majority of hate-related speech in schools are in suburban and primarily white institutions. It is this security, privilege and silence that we are warned about that manifested of this event.
The bystander effect, or the fear of being the offending particle in our largely homogenous student body, will be this community’s undoing.
It is up to all of us to call out racist behavior, with or without malicious intent, when we see it, whether or not it puts us in an uncomfortable situation.
While the school cannot share the punishments of the students due to privacy laws, students need to pressure the district into very publicly releasing a statement on a zero-tolerance policy regarding bigoted behavior.
Not only would this act as a deterrent for future racist or hateful incidents, but it would encourage the administration to implement strong and necessary punishments.
Without strong consequences, the administration is just as complicit as the rest of us.
We can keep on saying that there are “good ones” among us, but those words will be empty if we continue to promote an attitude of “this too shall pass” among ourselves.
Students laugh at the shock value of this racial slur at the expense of their fellow Sea Kings’ humanity.
While we listen to our student leadership and marginalized peers, this ultimately falls on the shoulders of all of us to hold each other accountable.
The fight to make our school better for all students cannot be limited a Unity Circle and 24-hour Instagram Story statements.
The steps and promised change announced by the Associated Student Body, Be the Change, the Coalition for the Advancement of Rights and Equality, the Palos Verdes Organization of Women and the Gay-Straight Alliance is a great and much-needed catalyst for a better PVHS.
However, we cannot allow silence to stifle progress any longer.