Racism still alive in Granite Bay?

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Although racism has significantly decreased in the past century with the implementation of civil liberty laws, it still occurs in today’s society ﹘ even at Granite Bay High School. The string of controversial cases against African Americans, such as those of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner, have prompted hundreds of protesters to advocate against police brutality.

Rumors of a racist substitute teacher sparked the idea that racism is still alive on the GBHS campus.

Senior Kwabena Akoto was the subject of this rumor. He said everything started when he asked to use the restroom while watching a video in his math class.

“We watched an informational video in (Advanced Placement statistics) and I moved to go sit next to my friend because I didn’t really (understand) what was going on in the video,” Akoto said. “I went over to sit down, and we got a couple of problems done. Near the end of the class period … (the substitute teacher) said, ‘Go back to your seat,’ and I said, “He’s just explaining this to me. I don’t really (understand) it,’ and she said, ‘Go back to the back of the class(room) where you belong.’”

Akoto said, initially, he thought nothing of the comments, but then his friends asked if the substitute made the comments because he is African American. He said this isn’t his first experience with racism.

“There have been a few other incidents, but I dealt with those myself,” Akoto said. “(But) she’s a teacher, so she’s (supposed to be) more mature than I am so I don’t really know how to go about (handling) it. Other incidents were just kids my age making racist comments and I can take care of that.”

Akoto said he thinks this incident was a mere coincidence. He thinks the teacher couldn’t see him and told him to go to the back of the class.

“I don’t think she intended to be racist,” Akoto said. “I forgive her even if it had harsh intentions.”

This incident does not stand alone. GBHS junior Garbita Shah was also subjected to racism in the Granite Bay community.

“It happened back in September,” Shah said. “My mom was walking down the street of our neighborhood and a dog came running at her. She saw the owner and politely requested him to leash his dog. He started yelling at her, condemned her for her race, telling her to go back to her land he then lifted his bike at my mom as if to attack her with it.”

Shah said her mother was not physically harmed, but went through an emotional shock. She said they have been living in this area for 13 years and have never experienced anything like that before.

“My dad however was attacked as well and a long scratch was left on his chest,” Shah said. “By the time police came, the man and the woman he was with had run away.”

Shah said the police were able to keep the the neighborhood on watch for a few days, but couldn’t find the attackers due to lack of identification.She said, after that incident, it was hard to feel safe.

“In general, I think there’s only small minority in today’s society that’s really racist,” Shah said. “But, something I’d like to add is that it’s difficult as a society to overcome and end problems like racism, but I think the best place to start is to identify cases of it and realize that it still exists.”

Shah said people need to understand that the world is made up of all kinds of people from different backgrounds and no one race can be deemed more supreme than another, especially in a land of equal opportunity like in the United States.

Zach Gorsen, a junior at GBHS said he thinks the reason the racial makeup of Granite Bay is predominantly white is one of two things, the first being an unlikely statistical coincidence and the second being a consequence of previous laws.

“The second is the legacy of unjust laws in the past,” Gorsen said. “It’s mostly just because former laws prohibited people from building up a money supply in which they could pass on to their children, and because their children didn’t have the money, they couldn’t afford to live in Granite Bay.”

Gorsen said in order to get into the school district one must live in a wealthier area and because races were targeted in the past, they didn’t have the ability to build up enough wealth to pass to their children to have enough money to live in Granite Bay.

“There’s always going to be some sort of prejudice towards some race,” Gorsen said. “I think the number of people in the Granite Bay area that hate another race or treat people differently because of their race is so small that it’s almost not a problem, but is a problem just because it exists.”

Gorsen said he believes you can’t get rid of racism and brutality because people like to group themselves, and race is a really easy way to group people.

“During the Ferguson thing, I have no doubt that people had some racist thoughts,” Gorsen said. “I had some thoughts about poor people, but not about racists.

Gorsen also said racist jokes can be very funny.

“I feel like in the pit of my heart they’re still a little bit wrong, but, they’re jokes – they’re not serious comments,” Gorsen said. “As long as it’s a joke it’s fine. It’s not meant to be taken seriously.”

Gorsen said he’s never been subjected to racism in the Granite Bay community.

“I am part of the gigantic majority of white people and white people generally aren’t racist to other white people,” Gorsen said.

Additionally, Gorsen said he believes in rich privilege, not white privilege.

“It makes sense that because of other laws in the past that were racist, white people would have a statistically better chance of being wealthy,” Gorsen said. “There is a correlation between white people and wealthy people, not a causation between white people and wealthy people.”

GBHS junior Sonia Garcha said she doesn’t think GBHS students are intentionally racist, but people need to be more cautious of the casual slang they use or the stereotypes they form.

“They may not think anything of it, but it does affect somebody even if it’s not you,” Garcha said.

Garcha said a common misconception about her is that she is either Hindu or Muslim because her religion, Sikhism, is not known by many and therefore people wrongly assume.

“In seventh and eighth grade (many) of my classmates made a lot of racist remarks regarding my ethnicity and religion,” Garcha said. “They called me ‘sandstorm’ or ‘camel jockey.’ A lot of people even asked me how long it took me to perfect my American accent.”

Since getting to high school, however, Garcha said that the bullying has essentially stopped.

“I think it mostly had to do with the lack of maturity and I don’t think they were purposely trying to harm me in any way,” Garcha said. “People still make a comment once in a while but I decided that it was better to just laugh it off then give them the power to let it affect me.”

Garcha said she will do whatever it takes not to let anyone’s comments or opinions affect her and that she is here to get an education, not question her faith.

“I also didn’t feel hurt by some of the comments because a lot of people aren’t familiar with my religion so it never really felt like they were directly attacking me,” Garcha said. “I think this applies to more than just racism, but everyone should realize that the people that surround us in high school will not affect our future lives, not unless we let them.”

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