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Students and staff reflect on racism awareness walkout

On April 4, junior Perla Rodriguez held a walkout after a student used racial slurs against one of their peers, telling them to “go back to Mexico.” Rodriguez wanted to use the walkout as a way to express her concerns and raise awareness about racism on campus.

“I just hope San Marin as a whole begins to slowly but surely understand that the ethnic group is outnumbered, but should be included in the game,” Rodriguez said.

Many staff members also found the situation to be alarming. Science teacher Michelle LaFevre-Bernt was especially disturbed about the comments, and was happy to hear about the walkout. LaFevre-Bernt saw the walkout as an opportunity to establish the community’s values, so as not to be represented “by the statements and actions of a few.”

“I felt like a significant portion of our student population was invalidated, belittled and disenfranchised, simply because of where they or their relatives were born by the thoughtless actions and comments that were made,” LaFevre-Bernt said.

The walkout began with a speech made by senior Jimena Lara, where she brought up her own family background and her personal thoughts surrounding racism at San Marin. Lara emphasized the importance of becoming aware of underlying racism.

“I am not asking for everyone to be friends. I just need people to understand that the only way we will all be able to progress as a whole is if people are willing to become allies of minorities,” Lara said. “It is important to become educated on a topic before you
say something that comes from a place of hate and insecurity.”

Following Lara, Rodriguez shared her own story and continued to emphasize the importance of empathy and courtesy towards one’s peers.

“Sitting down and really talking to someone about an ignorant comment they made really does go a long way,” Rodriguez said. “Trust me; communication really is key.”

English teacher Wesley Swedlow stressed the importance of consistency following the walkout.

“Walkouts, protests, they’re fine, but they’re just beginnings,” Swedlow said. “If you want to see something different happen, you have to actually go and work at it and I hope that the students who were a part of [the walkout] found it meaningful continue to work that way.”

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