As a MSSD alumni, I am shocked and appalled at the racially-charged incident that occured recently at my old high school. I read Berke's blog that one of the seven students involved in the assault on the black student was black. It seems that the teenagers do not understand the full implications of using hate symbols of the swastika and "KKK."
An article recently published in CNN describes it as a "game." According to the article, Metro Police Chief Cathy Lanier understood it started out as a "friendly horseplay" that got out of control and escalated into an assault.
Gallaudet President Robert Davila is quoted by CNN as saying that the game was "destructive and represented a kind of evil that existed in society."
I agree totally with President Davila. Sadly, this incident demonstrates ignorance on part of the students involved in the incident. It also shows that not much changed at MSSD after thirty years.
I am reminded of my time at MSSD in the late '70s to the early '80s, when I have encountered a few students who were racially biased. MSSD back then had a high percentage of Hispanics and blacks (as it still does today, I think). I am part white and part Latino myself, but often I was confused for Italian. So one or two white students, thinking I was white, would whisper to me a snide comment about Hispanics or blacks. I was immediately put off and would inform the white student of my true ethnic identity, and he would blush and apologize. This has often happened to me beyond high school.
There was once a gang at MSSD, all white, who at first dubbed themselves "KKK." They'd wear jean cutoff jackets and bandanas on their heads and strut around, acting like they thought they were cool. But none of them were really racist. I'd seen the gang leader hang out and joke with black students, as if it was no big thing. When I asked him why he'd call his gang "KKK", he explained it was for shock value. He wanted his gang to look "bad" and intimidate students. Later his gang changed their name to "Bragg." Those of you who went to MSSD with me may be familiar with this gang. The gang wasn't violent, however; it was known for playing pranks and harassing certain students.
Admiral Thad Allen (in response to the noose incident) said that "this type of racist conduct, like other forms of discrimination, runs counter to" the Coast Guard's core values and should not be tolerated. Likewise, the type of racist conduct at MSSD, regardless whether it was horseplay or not, whatever racial background of those individuals involved, runs counter to MSSD's core values and should not be tolerated.
The way MSSD authorities handled this must be commended. However, the issue remains educating deaf teens on the subject of prejudice and bias.
MSSD is a school. MSSD is supposed to be a for democracy, tolerance, unity, and education. To preserve their pride and honor, MSSD students must kick out bigotry, discrimination, prejudice, hatred and bias!
MSSD is #1! Keep up the Eagle spirit!
Update 10/8/07: I am back from a weekend trip. Recently an anguished mom of the MSSD perpetrator wrote a blog that shed light on the situation. I sympathize with this mother because I happen to know a few students back in my old days who were, too, developmentally disabled. As I pointed out in my story of the gang that labelled themselves "KKK" for shock value, there were students who lacked the knowledge nor understanding of hate symbols they utilized in their fantasy entactments.
I read with interest Brenda Zimmerman's comment on Mishka Zena's blog "CNN: Not A Racial Attack, But a War Game Gone Too Far." She described a pretty accurate picture of what it was like at MSSD back in the late '70s to early '80s. I reiterate, however, there were indeed a few students who were prejudiced. I remember one or two students who made anti-Semitic remarks in my presence.
I agree with Carl Schroeder's comment that dormitory staff should be responsible. However, I think more could be done to educate MSSD students on U.S. history, why such hate symbols as the swastika and KKK are anti-American and what our core American values are. This way students would develop more respect and tolerance for each other. Maybe this is a project MSSD's social studies department could consider? I remember MSSD has done projects like this in the past to raise students' awareness on several pivotal issues such as respect for the other's property or right to religious belief.
Now, see my responses to the posters here.