Wendy Snyder 0

Racist "Promposal" Incidents at Los Gatos High

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Dear Administration, Faculty & Staff of Los Gatos High School,

We the undersigned students, alumnae and parents of Los Gatos High School and members of the community are deeply disturbed by recent news regarding ‘promposals’ by LGHS students, one that made a poster showing a black person being lynched and another that wore blackface. While the students may have denied the intention behind these actions, it is well known that the imagery and language they used are blatantly racist and historically offensive. Even more upsetting to us is the lack of a real response to the incidents by the LGHS administration. Your decision to wait until next school year “to support increased cultural sensitivity throughout the student body,” suggests that the real problem is systemic rather than incidental.

We believe that the failure of the administration to adequately respond to these incidents is emblematic of a school culture and climate which favors white upper middle class students and devalues students belonging to historically oppressed groups.

We believe that the time to act with integrity is now. It is time to show students of all backgrounds that the Los Gatos High School community stands firmly against violence against black people and defends the dignity, safety and well-being of all its students.

We demand that the Los Gatos High School leadership respond to these incidents with the following actions:

  1. An immediate response to the “promposal” incidents:
    1. An open dialogue in the form of an all-school assembly to address these incidents to take place before the 2016-17 school year end
    2. An opportunity for the students involved in the “promposals” to learn from this situation and make restitution to the LGHS community (ie, Restorative Justice) that goes beyond the confidential disciplinary actions the school claims have already been taken.
    3. An unambiguous statement by the administration to the LGHS community regarding your position on the actions of these students.
  2. Professional development for the LGHS faculty and staff:
    1. Paid summer training for teachers who are willing to serve as community leaders
    2. In-depth training on culturally responsive teaching practices for the entire staff prior to the 2017-18 school year
    3. Ongoing staff training throughout the year
  3. Revision of the curriculum in order to:
    1. Address the historic wrongs of slavery, colonial violence and the current state and white vigilante violence against African and Indigenous peoples.
    2. Chronicle the resistance of African, Indigenous and other oppressed peoples to colonial violence and oppression.
    3. Cover the continuum of white support for justice, freedom and reparations for the crimes of slavery and colonial violence.
    4. Include works by and about non-white persons to more accurately represent the demographics of the state of California and our nation.

While we are horrified by these incidents, we also believe that this is an opportunity for the Los Gatos High School to open up a discussion about historic oppression and social justice. The highly inappropriate nature of the 'promposals' along with the accompanying publicity present a 'teachable moment' without parallel. Failure to address these events on a school-wide basis at this time would be a tremendous loss of an excellent learning opportunity.

We have faith that the Los Gatos High School administration will do right by our alma mater.

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