Racist High School Editorial Dismays and Rouses Community

CARSON, Calif. – A racially provocative and unsigned high school editorial prompted community leaders to urge the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to hold forums where racial and ethnic diversity could be discussed and encouraged.

The Trailblazer, Carson High School’s student newspaper, published the racially insensitive piece on Nov. 21, which was soon lambasted as racist and intolerant.

The opinion piece, written by an unidentified female student who, school officials said, is not black, expressed anger and frustration at the behavior of a group of black students congregating at a Taco Bell restaurant across the street from the high school. The article described the black students as “a pack of monkeys” that deserved to be “put into a cage.” The article was headlined “Looks like the circus is in town.”

Gregory Vieira, a faculty member and journalism adviser, said the publication of the editorial was an oversight and that he was embarrassed the piece made it through.

The article’s writer, who continues to be incommunicado, is also reportedly embarrassed that she wrote the piece. As of Tuesday, the student remained in school.

Principal Kenneth Keener immediately sent out a letter to parents explaining the situation and trying to defuse it before it escalated. He condemned the letter as bigoted and guaranteed it would never happen again. He also posted it on the school’s Web site.

Teachers at Carson High have integrated the letter into their lesson plans in order to teach tolerance and ease racial tensions at the school. Thus far, school officials say, the strategy has worked.

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