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Yearbook Yikes


Although they may gripe about their annual photo when yearbooks come out, all students really care about is their place in it, first and last name, forever to be remembered if only within its pages. Students of the Black Student Union at Charter Oak High School in Covina, Calif., whose black population is less than 5 percent, will not be accurately remembered in this year’s yearbook; names that labeled their group photo were not their own, but rather ones that could be considered racially offensive, reported The Los Angeles Times.

School officials say they have spoken to the student believed to be responsible for labeling the photo with filler names such as “Tay Tay Shaniqua” and “Crisphy Nanos” and left the page uncorrected. Other names on the student groups page were made up, however according to the school’s principal, “the BSU ones were what I would consider the most offensive.”

The school printed stickers of the correct names for students to use to cover the fake ones; however, with school already out, students have to go back to the school to receive them. School board President Joseph Probst is unsure of how to clear up what he says is an “isolated incident.” “It’s not bringing a weapon, not bringing a gun. Does it rise to a hate crime? That’s going to take some looking into before we do that,” he said. And one nagging question remains, what adult was on duty?


Sadly, this is a serious issue. As if the black students didn't have a hard enough time. The accomplishments of this 5% should be especially celebrated. Now, instead of showing friends & family an yearbook with pride, there will be embarrassment. The only equitable remedy is a new printing.

This school needs to make sensitivity training a requirement for every student, teacher, and staff member. The climate of that school had to have contributed to the student's feeling that it was okay to do such an offensive thing. The fact that the yearbook advisor did not catch the derogatory names before the book went to print speaks to his or her complicity or dereliction. The school's printing labels to cover the offensive names makes my point. This action equates to a covering up of a very serious problem.

Let's see... according to the Department of Justice FBI
A hate crime, also known as a bias crime, is a criminal offense committed against a person, property, or society that is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin.

Nope, no mention of a gun. Yes, this IS a hate crime and should be treated as one. Someone committed a crime against a group of people and a supervising adult "looked the other way". Simple as that.

I know this was mentioned as a last question, but honestly, where was the Yearbook advisor? I was on the yearbook staff as a high school student almost 20 years ago at San Dimas high school in San Dimas, CA. I'm pretty sure our black population was about the same or less. Let's see, considering I was the only black student on the staff, but that's not the point. Anyway, our yearbook advisor, Ms. Miller, would never allow anything to go out to print without her approval. She definitely made sure we did not write anything that would offend someone. I can only hope that the advisor did not see this or they'd have plenty of explaining to do.

Once again, a case of one group caught saying what others in the community are thinking. This is obvious by the school board president's hesitation to have consequences for the kids responsible: Why isn't the PTA weighing in on this issue? Where is the teachers' union? Why hasn't the yearbook advisor offered a public apology? Did he/she lose that position or at least receive a formal reprimand? Where is the principal? Offering stickers that are inconvenient to obtain is just one more American Band-Aid on the hemorrhage of racism in this country. What concerns me the most is that this is not a 'cause' for the African American students, it is a 'cause' for all students. Wait until YOUR gay, unattractive, nerdy, fat, or other marginalized subgroup- member child gets called a name 'by mistake'. Will it be important then?

The yearbook advisor should review everything that goes to print. She should lose her position and stipend.

The school should have an administrator responsible for 'proofing' the pages along with the adviser. I have been in schools that had an administrator proof the pages after the adviser to ensure that this type of 'error' was limited. In another school, the administrators reviewed the yearbook BEFORE distribution and when an offensive piece of copy was found- had the labels created and placed in the yearbook before the students received their copies. This should not be tolerated as a prank- one needs to ask- how bad does it need to be to be considered a hate crime? How far is this school board willing to go before they take a stand?

Racial equality in the United States will never change. Although we have had many fallen soldiers in the cause for equality racism remains the same. The School Board, Principal and Yearbook advisors should be sent home. Placing a sticker on the name sends the message that they are all in agreement. Thus they should all be fired for this hate crime.

Comments are now closed for this post.


Recent Comments

  • sensitive: Racial equality in the United States will never change. Although read more
  • Terry: The school should have an administrator responsible for 'proofing' the read more
  • Shirley: The yearbook advisor should review everything that goes to print. read more
  • angela blakney-steve: Once again, a case of one group caught saying what read more
  • Another Teacher: I know this was mentioned as a last question, but read more




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