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We are not racists? Prove it

One of the many kindness posters that began to appear in the hallways last week. This one is located by main floor locker bay bathrooms.

One of the many kindness posters that began to appear in the hallways last week. This one is located by main floor locker bay bathrooms.

Editorial Staff

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The last two weeks have been especially difficult for our school community. On election day, a student showed up with a Confederate flag attached to a vehicle. The day after the election, there was talk in the halls of “the wall” and a student was told to “go back to Mexico” (the student was actually from Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory). Last Thursday, Fox 9 reported that “KKK” had been scratched into a white student’s car after she brought a person of color as a date the Homecoming Dance. Ignorant and offensive tweets were hurled between students as online conflict over the election escalated. A Snapchat caption threatened violence on Monday, November 21.

We don’t believe these actions represent who we are. If they do, we, the students, need to be the first to confront it.

All students deserve to feel safe walking the halls, attending class, working with others, and participating in school activities. Intolerance and discrimination don’t just violate Eagan’s school policy, they are in direct opposition to our moral beliefs. No one should feel targeted by their peers in the building or at school events. Despite recent incidents we do, for the most part, feel safe. The actions of a few, while concerning, do not represent the entire student body.

So what eases our distress despite the fear and intimidation into our midst? Positive messages posted in the hall and on bathroom walls. A strong showing at the first discussion club meeting. Teachers taking class time to open up the dialogue. Dr. Reikowski addressing the students and e-mailing parents. The administrative team dealing with individual issues including those above. The common decency and courage of students who defend their peers against harassment, even if it may hurt their reputation.

These actions help. So does education, communication, and taking responsibility for our actions and words, in person and on social media.

Crying “Free speech!” or “First Amendment!” does not justify the incidents we’ve been dealing with. Student free speech rights stop when the words intimidate someone else according to the Supreme Court. From there harassment becomes bullying or verbal abuse; both violations carry suspension punishments according to the student handbook.

In order to strengthen our community against the issues of the last two weeks, we each must encourage open communication between students, teachers, parents, and administration. Talk to the people in your PAWS and the people who sit beside you in class. We’re willing to venture that the more you know their stories and they know yours, the more our school will embrace our diverse perspectives. Rather than ranting on Twitter or sending Snapchats to friends, report incidents of intolerance to teachers and administrators when you witness them and give specifics; better yet, intervene when it’s happening and stand strong by others’ sides.

We are the sum of all of our actions – good and bad. We are better than this. We are Eagan.

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1 Comment

One Response to “We are not racists? Prove it”

  1. Anna on November 27th, 2016 5:47 pm

    What happened to innocent until prove guilty?

    I feel like an awful person for being offended by people (of any race of background) entering our country illegally but my uncle spent 5 years and thousands of dollars to be here with his wife, children and my family. I don’t feel good getting angry that a family, who quiet possibly leaving a bad situation, is allowed to live here without applying for visas or requesting refuge but then said “not to be committing crimes” by living here undocumented but I do.

    No one cares that I am offended once a week for cultural background and the language I speak at home. I’m white after all. I can’t really know what its like to be mocked and tease, I can’t really know hardship because of my skin color. (But then again does that assume something of me just because of my skin color?)

    How am I supposed to prove I’m not racist or sexist? “I have a black friend” is laughed at, “I’m a girl, I can’t be sexist” is treated as ignorant. I’m not going to vote for a black man because he’s black and I’m not going to vote for a women just for being a women and I’m not going to vote for a white man because they are white or a man if my views don’t align with them– Conservative, Liberal or otherwise.

    So I’m not going to prove I am not racist. I am going to act like a decent person, stand up when I think something is wrong and speak my option even when its not popular because that’s what you, Eagan highschool and district 196 have taught me. And that’s what I feel has been taken away, and what gives me cause to write under a screen name, and what gives me fear that this post will never be approved and posted as a comment on this article.

    So don’t tell me I’m racist until you’ve spent 17 years in my shoes. And don’t call me ignorant for feeling that way.

    [Reply]

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We are not racists? Prove it