The Sacramento City Unified School District is investigating two of its students for allegedly posting a video with racist slurs in it on Instagram, Superintendent Jorge Aguilar wrote in a statement Wednesday.
A blurry, nine-second screengrab of the video was shared Tuesday on Facebook by Black Lives Matter Sacramento, and shows a male and a female teen wearing blackface or black masks. In one scene, a male voice says “I don’t think this bird likes n------.” In the second scene, he says “Hi, n-----,” as a female laugh is heard.
District spokesman Alex Barrios said the district believes the two people in the video are students at C.K. McClatchy High School, but has not yet determined their identities.
“I am aware that two students from our district posted an inappropriate video over social media using racial slurs and engaging in other racially insensitive behavior,” Aguilar said in the statement. “Our district takes very seriously and finds unacceptable the use of racist language and behavior by any student, employee or member of our school community.”
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Barrios said the district first became aware of the video Tuesday night, and has been told that multiple students shared the post with adults who spurred on the investigation, which will move “as quickly as possible.” He said some of the students who reported the video said they know the people who appear in it.
The district and the Sacramento Police Department have been in contact regarding the video, Barrios said.
One of the “big questions we’re looking at,” he said, is whether the students in the video are 18 or older. If they’re not, they have a greater right to privacy, potentially prohibiting the district from releasing many details to the community, he said.
Barrios couldn’t say what sort of disciplinary action could be taken against the student, if the allegations against them are verified.
“It just depends on the situation, and the spectrum is so broad,” he said. “There’s a spectrum of actions we can take, and that’s part of why we’re investigating.”
McClatchy High students have not yet returned to school for the year, so Barrios believes the video was filmed off-campus.
“Those are all factors that we have to investigate,” he said. “What is a school district’s authority when we are on summer break and we don’t start school for two weeks?”
The district has reached out to Black Lives Matter Sacramento and spoke with other community leaders who reported the video to school officials, Barrios said.
“This racist trend of mocking black people has been given more than the green light,” Black Lives Matter said in a Facebook post that accompanied the video. “Sacramento’s McClatchy High School students are taking their turn at being anti-black, by wearing black-face mask and using the word ‘N-----’ so freely. Since they were so bold in their actions, we have to put them on blast, seek accountability and transparency from them, their parents and the school district.”
The Sacramento chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People issued a statement Wednesday condemning the “repulsive” video and encouraging discipline for the students involved.
“Students must be able to study in a safe and welcoming environment, and it is the legal responsibility of both McClatchy High School and the district to ensure that happens,” said Betty Williams, the chapter president. “Sacramento is one of America’s most diverse cities, and the district must send a strong, unambiguous message that hate has no place on any of its campuses.”
Williams said the NAACP received complaints in the past from black students at McClatchy “regarding their treatment on campus by fellow students.”
In February, the high school attracted national attention when a student in its elite magnet program created a science fair project that questioned whether different races lacked the intelligence to handle the program’s rigorous workload.
The district reviewed that incident, but Barrios couldn’t say whether disciplinary action occurred, because the student was a minor.
Superintendent Aguilar said the racist language and actions in the video do not reflect the district’s values.
“This behavior creates anger and trauma and works against efforts to create the diverse, inclusive and thriving community that we are striving for,” he said. “We will address this matter with the seriousness it demands and continue to uphold our values and beliefs focused on advancing equity, access and social justice.”