Staff Editorial: The ongoing hate speech at BVH

BVH campus becomes more aware of the hate speech used by students

There has been a previous acknowledgment of the racial slurs being used on BVH campus. After this recognition there has still been markings and vandalism around the schools like the bathroom stalls.  (Sara Salgado-Garcia)

At Bonita Vista High (BVH), there is a misconception surrounding the definition of hate speech. The United Nations defines hate speech as “speech, writing or behavior, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language” based on their identity.  

Using this definition, it would be a fair assessment to say that the usage of varying slurs and the symbols graffitied on BVH campus murals and bathroom stalls can all be classified as hate speech. As a campus, it is crucial to take action when it comes to racism and prejudice. However, hate speech has been proven to be a common occurrence and issue at BVH. 

On Nov. 1 2021, the campus was found with anti-semitic symbols and speech vandalized across classrooms and murals. Although the graffiti has been removed, this incident, as well as harmful words said towards the Jewish community lead to the school’s decision to invite Rose Schindler, a Holocaust survivor, to visit the school and talk about her experiences on  April of 2021.

Furthermore, early August of this year, during a fight on campus, the n-word had been used towards another student. After this took place, Advanced Placement US History teacher, Ethnic Studies teacher and Black Student Union advisor Don Dumas made a detailed video addressing the use of this derogatory language and educated students on the history behind the word  and why it causes harm.

After these ongoing, serious incidents, it becomes challenging for BVH to address the issues. Once addressed, it is always followed by the hope that their step towards solvency will put a stop to the hate speech. 

Unfortunately, it often leads to silent acts of retaliation. On Aug. 30, The Crusader was sent a photo from the boys’ bathroom depicted with graffiti on the walls. The vandalism contained anti-semitic symbols and language, anti-black slurs and drawings along with homophobic slurs. 

It is frustrating to see the continuation of prejudice at BVH despite the several actions that have been taken. In a way, it seems that the video Dumas filmed encouraged these individuals to continue their hate speech—giving them the recognition they craved. Infamy is still fame in its own designation. 

The Crusader’s reaction to vandalism in school bathrooms may seem a dramatic one to some. However, according to the Holocaust Center for Humanity, “attitudes, behaviors, actions and inactions” that go unchecked may create the conditions necessary for tragic result. If unchecked, these “attitudes and behaviors become normalized, with the potential to escalate.” 

The normalization of prejudice behavior on campus impacts the safety of all minorities at BVH. As a school, we must tackle this problem before it escalates to not risk the comfort and well being of BVH students.  

“It seems necessary to criticize the inaction of the BVH faculty. It seems necessary to acknowledge the lack of dissemination.””

— Kendall Johnson

On most occasions, hate does not appear out of nowhere. There are signs of hate appearing on campus and whether these signs are obvious or obscure, it is the school’s job to have protocols to prevent hate set in place. Normalization of small acts of hate is merely the first step in the wrong direction. 

The Pyramid of Hate demonstrates how biased attitudes can lead to acts of bullying or hate. This belittlement may lead to discrimination, which further leads to bias motivated violence and even genocide. Genocide seems like a very broad term, yet history and events such as the Holocaust has proven to society that any small act of hate can lead to something more detrimental. 

It seems necessary to criticize the inaction of the BVH faculty. It seems necessary to acknowledge the lack of dissemination. It seems necessary to point out that removing and repainting graffiti can only do so much for a community. It is unlikely that the vandalism is news, as there have been students continuously contributing to the issue. If this hateful vandalism is not a new problem, it means that the issue has gone unreported. Either BVH students are unmoved by this prejudice or they feel as if they do not have the outlet to report on these instances. 

In either case, it is prevalent that as a school, the main priority for the administration is to create a safe environment for all students attending BVH. Issues are addressed and action is often taken, however in some cases, the time period between acknowledgment and action is far too long. Any student who attended BVH can vouch for how often the n-word has been heard on campus with no repercussions. Seeing administrative action is a positive. However, it brews the question of what took so long for action to be taken. If the signs of hate speech had been consistent, why did it take a fight between two students for the issue to finally be addressed. 

According to Sweetwater Union’s Nondiscrimination Statement, “the Sweetwater Union High School District requires that school personnel take immediate steps to intervene when safe to do so when he or she witnesses an act of discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying.” Merriam-webster defines “immediate” as “occurring, acting, or accomplished without loss or interval of time.” The Crusader publishes articles in an immediate and timely manner. The publication does this, so the community is informed on recent events in a matter of days, not in a matter of weeks or months. BVH should be held to that same standard when it comes to taking action or enforcing regulations—in an immediate manner. Students, staff, faculty and administrators must all be held accountable when it comes to indifference at BVH. Not taking immediate action might as well be equated to not taking action at all.