Accountability, Shift in Culture Necessary to Root Out Bigotry

Unfortunately, Campolindo is known as a school fraught with bigotry throughout our area. Many of us have seen a plethora of racist videos made by Campo students, witnessed or experienced bullying on campus, and most recently, have heard about the horrifying act of vandalism against our new Associate Vice Principal Vanessa Knight.

As students, we must take a stand and acknowledge we are all partly responsible for the appalling behavior of many of our classmates and others in our community. By allowing this behavior to continue and by remaining silent, this culture of bigotry and toxicity will continue to fester and become normalized.

The 1st thing that we must do is hold said bigots accountable. Students and staff must make it known that any racist, homophobic, or xenophobic behavior is not acceptable by leading by example. According to the Student Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging survey done last year, 59% of students have witnessed a racist incident on campus. This horrifying statistic is just another example that racism is deeply embedded in Campo’s culture. Even microaggressions and seemingly harmless comments help contribute to this culture. This racism must be called out by students and the school must give appropriate consequences to people that take part in prejudice.

Additionally, listening is crucial to allyship. Many eager allies try to advocate for reform and justice without truly listening to the people that are hurt by inequality. But because of the privileged nature of Lamorinda, we talk about racism like it’s foreign—not embedded in students’ everyday life. We need to listen to experiences, not define them.

I feel like this is 1 of many problems with discussions in Cohort Academy. The entire point of this cohort is to dismantle racist ideology, not to perpetuate or talk about it idealistically. People of color must be at the forefront of all conversations about race, not the majority white staff that can’t fully understand the nature and depths of racism. If we do not change this, and we continue the narrative that white people should dictate the remedies for racism, then Cohort Academy itself is racist.

I encourage everyone to stay educated about injustices in Lamorinda as well as across the nation. It’s challenging to help fight inequity without fully understanding and putting it into the context of history. Staying engaged with the news, reading about America’s dark history of white supremacy, and listening to the lived experiences of POC are all crucial to tear down racism at Campo.

It’s simply not enough to be a passive bystander—as a community, we must be anti-racist.

Even online, there are many ways to change school culture and root out intolerance as well as help minorities. Speaking out and spreading awareness about important issues that affect POC can help shape public opinion and instill change. Calling out racist and intolerant behavior when others are afraid to do so can help build a more inclusive and welcoming community. By going to a Black-owned business, we can do our part to create opportunities in places that have oftentimes been discriminated against.

And finally, we must vote for change. Although America had a major election only months ago, 1 election can change the trajectory of solving racial inequality. In the past, suburbs like ours have voted against changing systems of oppression. Although most of us can’t vote, volunteering or donating to candidates locally and beyond that are fighting to create change goes miles.

Fighting bigotry must be Campo’s No. 1 priority. Places like Moraga have been silent about this problem for far too long and this has directly contributed to Campo’s negative environment. We have an obligation to help and must do everything we can to root out and destroy racist beliefs that plague Lamorinda as well as the whole country.