Video of Bullard High School student in blackface, using a racial slur sparks outrage

Vanessa Vasconcelos Image
Wednesday, June 5, 2019
Video of Bullard High School student in blackface, using a racial slur sparks outrage
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It's a post that's drawing national attention to Bullard High School.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's a post that's drawing national attention to Bullard High School.

The video circulating on social media shows a student-athlete wearing blackface and making racial slurs.

It has sparked outrage, and it is also shedding light on a much deeper issue.

"We're seeing this more. It's becoming a trend, it's becoming something towards African Americans," said activist Debbie Darden. "That's the norm. Using it, being able to use it at any given time is the norm, and it just isn't."

Darden, a West Fresno District 3 activist, involved with the Black American Political Association of California says we shouldn't see this in 2019.

"For decades African Americans were mistreated were hated. The word black was something to be de-valued," she said. "We have to start stepping up and make people realize this isn't going to be tolerated and this is not normal."

She adds learning shouldn't stop in the classroom, "When you're at home educate your children one of the things we're lacking is the history to be taught about African American culture."

Both the family and school district haven't commented on the video; however, superintendent Bob Nelson addressed the incident on Facebook. He says the teen made a poor decision and will be held accountable for the deeply offensive video.

The full statement reads:

"We will hold the student accountable, but the totality of the circumstance has not represented our finest moment as a community.

It's graduation season and the time of year that we should be coming together to celebrate the youth of our valley. Instead, our community is grappling with a jarring incident of racial insensitivity that in a matter of a few hours tonight, has spiraled. I am reaching out tonight to ask our community to join with me in rising above the ignorance, hatred and angry rhetoric that has evolved on social media, and instead begin having courageous conversations that expand our collective cultural proficiency as a city.

Yes, a young teenager made an incredibly poor decision and posted a deeply offensive video on social media, but nothing productive comes from meeting that ignorance and racial insensitivity with hate, and that is exactly what has occurred in the resulting outrage expressed. As adults, and as a city, we have to do better.

As an educational institution, we will do our part to begin a comprehensive program addressing the cultural proficiency of our students, beginning in the high school where this event took place. Ultimately, as we learn together, we will do better because we can make the determination to change ourselves. Hateful rhetoric does not have the ability to move others toward positive growth, unless we use our failures as an opportunity to fail forward. I have no doubt that we can, and must, do better.

We have a responsibility to be examples for the youth of our city, and personal attacks on social media directed toward children only widen the negative impact of an already poor decision.

While I cannot share the lived experience of systemic bias, I certainly understand and validate the hurt, anger, fear and pain that arise from incidents such as this one. I am especially mindful how those feelings affect our Fresno Unified School District students. That being said, I also believe we must rise above the hate with perpetual love and abiding humanity.

Incidents of cultural insensitivity have the potential of taking our entire community to a very dark place. If we are to find the light, we have to change the narrative and engage our youth in meaningful conversations that help them understand the significance of their actions, and the impact on our diverse community. Whether a parent, an educator, or a community member, we need to leverage this public failure as an opportunity to have a healthy and productive conversation about cultural acceptance and understanding. I hope you will join me in taking that important first step."

The school district is still working on a statement and plan to address this in the near future. Superintendent Nelson says there will be a cultural proficiency program implemented district-wide but starting at Bullard High School