Santa Clarita school district officials have promised to take action after a video posted on social media shows students driving around a school parking lot and singing a song that includes a racist slur.
Three students from Valencia High School filmed themselves laughing and repeatedly singing the N-word into a microphone. The lyrics to the song included, “I don’t like N—.”
Representatives of the Santa Clarita chapter of the NAACP and the William S. Hart Union High School District addressed the video at a news conference Tuesday with other community leaders. District officials did not disclose what type of discipline the students will face because they are minors.
The video was recorded by a student who was being driven around a parking lot in a car with two other students. She laughed and held a microphone to the driver as they sang the lyrics to the song.
“They then chose to share that hate speech by posting it on social media for thousands to see,” Valerie Bradford, Santa Clarita chapter president of the NAACP, 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.”
Antonia Esi, president of the Black Student Union at Valencia High School, quoted civil rights activist Angela Davis to say, “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.”
Esi added, “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 condemned the casual manner in which the lyrics were repeated in the video.
“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 written statement.
Kuhlman promised that the district has taken “strong, proactive steps to send the message that this type of blatant racism” will not be tolerated.
The video is not the first instance where Valencia High School has had to grapple with racism. In 2008, the school district agreed to pay $300,000 to four students to settle a racial discrimination lawsuit, according to the Los Angeles Daily News.
The students in the 2008 settlement claimed the district allowed hate and bias to persist at their school and that district officials ignored comments from parents. While they attended Valencia High School, the students said they heard shouts of “white power” and “go back to Africa” during the lunch hour and saw swastikas, iron crosses and other racist symbols tagged on school property.
In the current case, district officials conducted interviews with students, parents and staff members, according to Kuhlman, and also reached out to law enforcement officials regarding the video posted to social media.
While the blatant racism displayed in the video was shocking, it was not surprising to many in the community, said school district board member Cherise Moore.
“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,” Moore said. “It helps me recognize that we have a lot of work to do as the board.”
Moore said she will present a list of recommendations to the district’s governing board to address racism and bias within 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.”