SACRAMENTO — The Florin Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League on March 16 sent the following letter to the Board of Trustees of the El Dorado Union High School District in Placerville over a recent girls’ basketball game in which Oak Ridge High School fans directed slurs at the McClatchy High School team.
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We strongly protest the outrageous racist and bullying (body-shaming) slurs against the McClatchy High School Girls’ Basketball Team by some Oak Ridge High fans on Feb. 25, 2016 in El Dorado Hills. This is totally unacceptable and an insult to the entire Japanese American, Asian Pacific Islander American (API) community, plus all other decent Americans. We call for meaningful actions to be taken so that this will never happen again.
Numerous comments widely reported, including organized chants against the McClatchy team by Oak Ridge High students, included “soy sauce,” “small eyes,” “Go back to Fiji,” “Outback Steakhouse,” “You’re ugly,” and “You’re fat.” These create a hostile racist and bullying (body -haming) environment. Our children deserve to learn and grow in a safe environment, not one like this.
These attacks are not simply “inappropriate comments.” We do not accept such a characterization. They are a cover-up of the dangerous nature of these insults.
These racist and bullying slurs were heard by McClatchy spectators all the way across the gym. Claiming that no one among the student section heard anything or can’t identify those responsible sitting just a few feet away is not credible.
The grabbing of a McClatchy team member during the game by a spectator, plus the injury of a McClatchy student by a car driven in the parking lot with Oak Ridge students, show that bigotry can lead to violence. This unacceptable behavior by some students at Oak Ridge High is out of control.
Also disturbing are reports that other racist incidents occur on campus. Whatever is happening at Oak Ridge High to prevent this is obviously not enough.
We call for major actions to be taken by the El Dorado Union High District Board to resolve these incidents and prevent future issues. Talk is not enough. Meaningful steps might include:
- Holding the perpetrators of these actions strictly accountable, including a contrite public apology by the students.
- Setting up clear policies, if none exist, covering such racist and bullying slurs in school.
- Firmly enforcing such policies so they have meaning.
- Stepping up diversity training and bullying intervention at Oak Ridge High School plus other schools. It’s clear that whatever has been done before, if anything, is not enough.
- Reporting fully to the public by the school and board on what steps have been taken and will be done to prevent this racist and bullying behavior.
People in the Asian and Pacific Islander American community take these racist and bullying slurs extremely seriously. These have been used in the past to justify attacks, discrimination, hate crimes, and violence against people because of their race, religion, national origin, gender, orientation, or immigrant status.
For those team members of Japanese American ancestry, this type of racism rationalized the imprisonment of their parents, grandparents, and great grandparents in America’s World War II concentration camps holding 120,000 innocent people. The same bigotry during this time justified thousands of hate crimes, assaults on Japanese American veterans, burning of homes, dynamiting of businesses, shooting of farms, denial of hospital services to pregnant women, exclusion from public services, and even murders.
We are also completely appalled that this racist mistreatment of World War II Japanese Americans is today being used by politicians to justify the detention of Middle East war refugees or to ban Muslims from our country due to their religion. This threat reinforces the need to speak out against continuing racism today.
For the McClatchy team members of Chinese, African American, and Latino ancestry, these hateful insults are also disgusting. Similar language has been used to justify the murders of Chinese American miners in 1861 El Dorado County, institutional racism against the black community, and anti-immigrant xenophobia.
We are proud of the McClatchy team for staying focused, enduring, and speaking up against this mistreatment. Beyond their formidable athletic abilities, they display the sportsmanship and civility that are examples for us all.
Contrary to stereotypes of Asian Pacific Islander Americans, our community is neither quiet nor passive when it comes to racism. We have spoken out, rallied, picketed, boycotted, and demonstrated when needed. We as civil rights advocates will continue to do so in the future.
These racial and bully slurs reflect badly on all the students, staff, and administrators of the El Dorado Union High School District; the community; sports boosters; the 200 schools in the CIF-Sac Joaquin; and the sponsors.
We call on the district and school to take firm action to correct and make amends for this racist and bullying behavior. We look forward to a meaningful response.
In the meanwhile, we will continue sharing the API community’s outrage across the country, through the media and social media, and in coordination with other civil and human rights organizations.
The recent letter from the Oak Ridge High Ozone cheering section apologizing for their actions and for other students in their section was a good first step. Many more steps need to be taken by the school and district to hold the perpetrators accountable.
The letter was signed by Andy Noguchi and Marielle Tsukamoto, Florin JACL co-presidents; Joshua Kaizuka, Esq. and Fumie Shimada, Florin JACL Civil Rights co-chairs; Michelle Huey, Breana Inoshita, Paul Masuhara, Esq., Brandon Miyasaki and Twila Tomita, Florin JACL Civil Rights Committee members.
The Florin JACL (www.florinjacl.com) is a grassroots community organization founded in 1935 in the former Florin farming community of south Sacramento. It is a chapter of the National JACL, the oldest and largest Asian Pacific American civil rights organization in the country. The Florin JACL has forged successful partnerships, reaching thousands of people each year, focusing on the Japanese American experience and its important constitutional issues for all Americans today. Its mission is “Promoting civil rights, social justice, and cultural heritage for all Americans through community education, alliances and leadership.”