The Telegram and Gazette elected to run a one sided hit piece today on Uxbridge High School, alleging that they are harboring rampant amounts of racism.
Here’s the link if you’d like to read the story. My biggest issue with it is that it’s lazy. The media enters into a story with a narrative – predominantly white town full of racists makes brown kid uncomfortable with their overt racism. They then set out to prove that narrative by only speaking with people who will back up their original assertion. And that’s what happened here – they interviewed this kid, his mother, his father, and quoted a superintendent’s press release. They didn’t interview any of the allegedly racist students, any teachers, any coaches, or any neutral third parties who could provide insight into the matter. They took everything the kid and his family said as fact and in doing so smeared an entire community.
Darius Silva is a 17 year old junior of Cape Verdean descent who alleges that he’s been targeted by a handful of students who hurl racial slurs at him. He also alleges that one of these students smashed his mailbox, and his parents don’t think the school is doing enough. The story, written by Susan Spencer, does nothing to investigate the veracity of these claims.
Here’s some excerpts that stood out.
The parents blame administrators for not doing enough to stop racist activity allegedly occurring on cell phones outside of school.
Parents often feel like administrators aren’t doing enough for their kids. This is obvious bias, and a reporter concerned with telling the whole story would’ve asked them to explain what administrators should’ve done, while providing documentation that their concerns were not listened to.
If I were writing that story I would have questions about this:
Who switches schools junior year? And the reason given was because he wanted to go to a smaller school for varsity sports? No one transfers to Uxbridge for sports. And why couldn’t he focus on academics at Cumberland High School? If you want to get to the bottom of the story these are the questions a reporter should ask.
The family is also filing a lawsuit.
But what was he discriminated from? What activities was he banned from participating in because of his race? Mean kids sending mean text messages isn’t discrimination. It’s an unfortunate part of high school life. It doesn’t make it right, but it’s not discrimination.
The football coach was smeared by name.
Again, what are the details here? What specifically did he say? What were the results of the investigation? What efforts did she make to interview the coach, who is not quoted? Susan Spencer had no interest in asking any of these questions because that would require actual work.
This made me immediately suspicious of the parents:
Just to review what their “demands” are:
- The school must email all parents detailing specific responses to racial incidents. This would be a violation of privacy policies, since schools aren’t allowed to talk about disciplinary actions handed down to specific students, and call them out in an email to other parents.
- A meeting be held with parents and student athletes. For what? If you have a problem with a specific student then your son should address it with the coach, AD, and principal. Why should every student athlete be forced to sit through a meeting that has nothing to do with them?
- Further investigation into statements made on social media by certain students. What does that even mean? They saw the screenshots of what kids wrote and acted accordingly. There is nothing a school can do to punish kids who write mean things bout other kids on Facebook.
- Confirmation that parents of the offending students were notified, as well as hosting speakers from “diverse communities.” Again, schools can’t tell you confidential information about other students, and things they’ve said to their parents.
- Future diversity trainings for teachers, students, and administrators. And that ladies and gentlemen, is what the racism-industrial complex looks like. Allege that racism is widespread, then sell the cure for it. The taxpayers will write a check to a consultant group that specializes in diversity training. That organization will be extremely biased, and will walk into a school like Uxbridge ready to lecture teachers and students about their “unconscious bias” and “white privilege.” Participants will be forced to accept these theories as fact.
Teachers are busy enough as it is. Instead of wasting a full day on diversity training, why don’t they set aside a day where they can collaborate with other teachers from other schools who teach the same subjects they do, so that they can exchange effective lesson plans in order to enhance student learning? What do you think would be more beneficial to the student body – that or diversity training?
The kid blamed his poor grades on racism.
Sorry, but I’m skeptical of anyone who isn’t willing to take ownership of their poor grades in school, and wants to blame it on an outside factor.
The student listed some examples of alleged racism.
My football coach called every kid on the team boy. Because that’s what we were – boys.
“Boy, you better get your ass downfield on kickoffs or else you’re gonna be sitting on the bench.”
And this student admits that he didn’t think it was racist until someone told him later on that it was.
Then there was this:
One member of the baseball team wrote something racist in a text message. What happened to him?
He was cut from the team. Problem solved. So what is the problem here exactly? That 27 other high school kids felt conflicted and didn’t know how to respond to a racial slur?
Susan Spencer took any opportunity she could find to smear the entire community with unconfirmed anecdotes like this one:
“Uxbridge High School is not safe for minorities.”
Would anyone like to dispute that? Anyone? Did she speak with other minority athletes? Did she speak with minorities who graduated from Uxbridge and had a different experience? Of course not.
This to me was the most telling sentence.
He’s upset because he’s riding the bench for the baseball team, after admittedly transferring to this school for sports.
The family is alleging a hate crime because their mailbox was smashed, even though they don’t know who did it.
And Darius says he walks around school feeling “unsafe.”
It’s unfortunate if he feels that way, but this is not a unique feeling, and isn’t exactly newsworthy. I felt unsafe all the time in school, especially middle school. I too was a racial minority and I was called racial slurs by other students, some of who liked to karate chop my books and hit me in the back of the head. It wasn’t fun, but I also didn’t get a story about it in the local newspaper.
The story had the effect it wanted.
Widespread condemnation of the school and community.
I’m not saying that this kid hasn’t had racist taunts directed at him, or that there isn’t racism in Uxbridge. Racism is everywhere. The problem is that when an institution like the Telegram uses their platform to smear an entire school community as being passive about racism, it’s lazy and wrong to do so. And that’s my biggest issue with this story – they didn’t tell the whole story, or even try to.
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