Up to 50 Kingston High School students participated in a walkout last week to bring awareness to alleged racist attacks that students of color have experienced at the school.
Junior Izzy Kim, who is of Asian ethnicity, said students of color talked about their experiences with racism at KHS and claimed the school is doing little about it.
“These students have expressed how they do not feel cared for or supported at the high school compared to their peers,” Kim said, noting that the school’s principal and vice-principal were at the walkout. They “feel both mistreated and unsupported at the high school.”
Kim said many of the same group of students have made racist comments. When teachers are notified, they just ask the students to apologize.
“Usually after the student apologizes they go back to laugh about it with their friends,” she said. “It is almost like they believe what they are doing isn’t wrong and that we are just being too sensitive or can’t take a joke. They do not realize that these jokes build up and affect the way that we see ourselves, the way we present ourselves, and how we act at school.”
Kim said she has experienced racism in elementary school, but it became worse at the end of middle school and start of high school. “Unfortunately, this is something that is not new to any of us,” she said.
The lone time Kim had a good interaction with a teacher about a racial incident was when the teacher caught the student saying something. Kim said she was only going to laugh it off like she normally would but the teacher stood up for her.
“He talked to the student and explained why it’s harmful to say it … Then he went to check on me to see if I was OK … This interaction was all I needed to feel like I was heard and supported,” she said.
The school’s attempt to be welcoming and inclusive is failing, she said.
“They talk about how the counselors or staff are there to listen to problems, but when it comes to issues like racism, they do not know what to do,” she said. “Since students of color make up a small percentage of the high school, it feels like our issues are just brushed off.”