This is a transcript of a video, shown to staff during Equity training, in which students gave their impressions of the presence of racism in Camas School District.
Source of this transcript was Camas Schools, as the result of a records request. Student names were removed by CSD.
We're going to go in this order with followed by and then . Hi Hi
So what I said is:
Dear people who are fighting for a change. People move to America to start a new life without them thinking about all the hate that there is in the world. Me being colored is the first thing I see every day, and it's the last thing I see at night. With all of the things that are going on it's hard. Every day it's like we're losing more and more people due to the police. I think I ask myself is why do we have these conversations if more and more people are getting put down for something that they can't change? I think that we need more children to talk about how they feel about racism. Because we're talking about it but we're not doing something about it. Being colored is hard. Having people be mean and using racially mean words. It's not right. At school, when we get when we get into topics that are about colored people, we don't talk about what is going on now or our history from slaves to having our own movement, movement. From Camas, I barely see my own cup my own grade. I don't want to live in fear or like I can't go outside.
We are talking about this problem to adults but we don't talk about it with children who went through racism like myself. I should be able to stand when no one's standing. So again, why are we having these conversations if nothing's changing or making a little progress? Or why are we not letting older kids like my age come and share what they have been through or saw? Black lives matter because one day it could be someone you know that is Black who may have gone through it. All Black lives matter. Thank you.
Thank you, and could you tell us what grade you're in and what school you attend? Um, I'm in grade and I attend Elementary School.
And you see that people are already thanking you. Thank you so much for sharing. Okay yes, let's give her some love yeah. Our next student is .
Hi, all right um I want it again. Good evening, my name is . I just want to let you know that I don't speak for all my people. I speak for myself. I speak how I feel scared and angry about what is happening in this community, and I feel like I have a red dot on the back of my head. I feel like a target. Not only do I feel like a target, I feel like we have gone nowhere in today's society, and this speech is directed to you guys, so I hope you're all listening.
This is for my officers. It's crazy how timelines work. In Australia and in Australia it's June 4th. And in Canada, it's June 3rd, but in America, it's still 1920.
As a Black boy, I feel scared to walk at night. I'm scared if I'm gonna make it home or not. I can't jog anymore, I can't relax in my home anymore, I can't even read anymore. What I expect for officers is that we need to hold each other accountable. You can say that there are bad apples all you want. As the great Chris Rock once said, "Not all jobs are supposed to have bad apples." And to the actual good police officers: I need you to come out and stop these bad apples from continuing to harm my community and killing, killing innocent Black lives like George Floyd.
This next one goes out to the high school parents in the room. Do you know what your kids say? You know what your kids are saying. What I've heard from so many kids is that they have said racial slurs derogatory terms and blatantly said disgusting things to my face saying like "You aren't Black Black." Or "You're the whitest Black guy I know." Not only that but your kids have sent me said the n-word so many times, I can't count it on all my fingers and toes. I'm talking n-i-g-g-e-r. They shouldn't be saying it at all, and yet they do. Black people took that word and rebranded it to give it a personal meaning for our community. But your kids are throwing it around like it doesn't mean a single thing. It's not just a word to be thrown around, and I feel disgusted at how they treat me. I feel that you as parents need to talk to your kids and have a long hard conversation about this topic.
And while you're at it, it's really important that you educate yourself on the Black Lives Matter movement. So please do so.
This last one is for my teachers. You're supposed to be preparing your students for the real world and what's to come, and yet they are clueless. I feel that you are not telling us enough. For example, you should talk about how slavery is affecting us today and should be and should talk about the real world. You're supposed to be teaching your students what is wrong with society today and how they can fix it. Now I'm not here seeking justice for one man or woman. I'm here seeking justice for the hundreds of men and women to come. Thank you for your time.
Thank you, and could you tell everyone what grade you're in and what school you attend? I attend High School and I'll be going into my year. All right . Yes, let's give it up. I see the, yeah I see the claps yes.
Okay, um, so hi, my name is . So I just wanted to confront this question that I've been asked like so much for the last week. How do I feel? Um, that's just a question that I've left in uncertainty because I'm so tired of seeing the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters taken by the hands of the people who sort of protect us.
Tamir Rice, Diana Showman, Michael Brown, Cameron Tillman, Karen Smith, Jeffrey Holden, Dillon Mcgee is sadly only a few names of kids who are my age and younger who are brutally murdered by the law enforcement officers. And that makes me scared.
As I face the sad reality at this point that I only have two choices of death. One being murdered or naturally dying at this point. I'm so sad, heartbroken that we're being labeled as thugs, uncivilized, aggressive, unnecessary when all we've asked for is justice to be served. Why is it that the constitution seems to have neglected us? Why is it that the justice system has left us with no option but to play the game of survival? Why is that that we're screaming, protesting, trying our best to secure our God-given rights, and all we've gotten is ridiculed constantly let down, or ignored? I've watched over 20 videos in the past week of how hard it is to live in this country as a minority. And at this point, all I want to do is leave. Coming to this country as an immigrant for the American dream that now seems to be a nightmare and a regret on my part. All I want to do is run away because no matter how hard I try, or how smart I try to get, I'll never be the same. I'll never be more than just an immigrant Black girl trying in a country that constantly rejects me, and that's just how I feel.
Thank you, . Look at the screens and look at all your friends here.
, can you tell us uh what grade you're in? I'm a at High School. And what are your next steps? I'm going to Gonzaga University to study human physiology and hopefully become a physician assistant. Wow, congratulations! Thank you. Oh and yeah and again our students I'm telling you. !
Uh hello. My name is , I'm a at High School. So what I'm about to read to you is my processing of the initial protests in LA and New York, and how they're covered in the media. Okay so as a white man, if I were to ask, "Why are those protesters rising?" my privilege is showing. As a white man, if I were to say, "But those businesses didn't do anything," my fragility is showing. Because as a white man, I'll never have to worry about the system failing me. I'll never have to worry that the police, banks, courts, healthcare, or education system will somehow let me down. I'll never have to think about being discriminated against in a system that is institutionally racist.
No one wants to riot. No one wants to embody the fear, rage, sadness, and mistreatment that this system has cast upon so many Black Americans. Just to try and get white people to care. So if you're uncomfortable, good. If you're feeling helpless and guilty, good. Because if you're not Black, you need to acknowledge and understand where these emotions are coming from. But don't do not let yourself bask and pull self-pity because that doesn't help anyone. We know that silence is compliance, so we cannot let these emotions of white fragility make us silent. And for those who say this isn't the right way, what is the right way? To bring about change is the right way. To march, to protest, to boycott or kneel?
Because since the abolishment of slavery, politicians activists lawyers, and everyday citizens have tried to bring about change the right way. Yet Black bodies are still being looted and murdered like we're living in the 1800s.
The right way implies playing it by the rules, but how are we supposed to incite change when the rules for white and Black Americans are different? How are we supposed to play by the rules when almost a third of Black men in America can expect to be incarcerated at some point in their lives? How are we supposed to play by the rules when he could be shot while jogging just for being Black? How are we supposed to play by the rules when unarmed Black protesters are tear-gassed, shot at, then labeled as thugs while armed white protesters can walk into government buildings unbothered? We live in a country where the people who have the power to change the system are actually reinforced by said system. It's the simple fact of matter that white men in power have actively ignored the cries of so many hurt communities in America. When people are protesting in writing it is a plea for help. It is a last-ditch effort to let white people know that Black communities in America are suffering. It's a last-ditch effort to tell white people that, as Benjamin Franklin put it, "Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are." Thank you.
And you see the applause, you see the claps. Okay, students are bringing it. what grade are you in, and what school do you attend? I'm a and I go to
Thank you and we'll hear more from later in the program. .
Hi guys, I'm I'm a junior and I attend argh, yeah I'm a junior going to High School. What I wrote for you is anger, guilt, pride, sadness, love, and fear. This does not even scratch the surface of the emotions that I felt following the event of yet another Black man's life lost because of police brutality. I have lived in Camas for 12 years. Twelve years of growing up as a person of color with privilege that comes along with living in a highly affluent area. I will never understand what it is like to grow up in a community with the fear of being held at gunpoint by a police officer whose duty lies in protecting not killing. Witnessing history that happened before me in the fight of equality has caused me to feel a lot of pain and the ugliness that has been lurking in this country. But I also have never been so proud to be a person of color. The Black Lives Matter movement has done something nationwide that I have never experienced. It has sparked a deeper conversation amongst our society when we have been trained to sit in the silence of our thoughts and rarely express our emotions. We are done being silent and now it is a matter of waiting for our voices to be heard. The awareness that has been spread is amazing to see, but growing up in a white-dominant community, I can't help but feel provoked by the ignorance of some of the people. Having a discussion about race with some of my closest friends has helped me realize the knowledge of racism that is lacking in our community. To scroll through social media and see a white person who is using the n-word and now claiming they are not racist. Or even worse, to see someone go completely silent. This community is supplied with too many people that live by the statement that they are not racist rather than going by being anti-racist.
By being anti-racist, you must be vulnerable to the fact that you have been a part of the oppression whether you meant to or not. By attending Camas, I have only learned about the slave trade and how it built America. Even going as far as doing a cotton picking demonstration in our class which made me extremely uncomfortable. I learned in class the abolishment of slavery but never once learned how learned how slavery now takes the form of imprisonment. Thousands are locked up that are African American for a crime that a white man could get away with or pay bail with money.
My lack of knowledge of my own culture growing up makes me feel guilty. Guilty that I have been hidden away from in my bubble of privilege. I've looked at this, oh I've looked at this during this time to create discussion amongst my family and to dive deeper into how race affects my biracial family. I have been cut off from my Black side of my family as they live in Florida. And I have never had the experience of growing up in a Black culture. During this movement, I have never felt so closely connected with my Black culture.
Although sparked by the terrible tragedy of the loss of George Floyd, I see nothing but beauty come out of this fight for equality and fighting for every life that has been lost due to police brutality. We are able to see people of all ethnicities stand together and fight for those who have been mistreated because being Black is seen as threatening. The riots and looting have may have gotten ugly, but it seems that everyone is starting to listen now that it started. We live in a town that lacks diversity. So I think it is very important that we speak out because the minorities that do live in Camas can begin to feel alone as they fight for their own equality every single day. If there can be a COVID-19 protest in Camas for essential items, I think it is even more essential to take the steps to fight for equality in this town. Thank you.
Y'all, y'all. All that, all that. All right and so you are at and your grade level again, I'm a going to be a
I'm already wrecked. I'm not gonna make it the rest of the night, I'm just telling y'all right now I'm just gonna be no good because just because. You know how that is. And so what we have in our courageous conversations toolkits... Dr. Williams? Yes?
I'm, I didn't get to go. Oh my gosh, ! Did I skip you? Let's go, sorry about that. Hold on, let me stop the share. My apologies.
It's okay. Ooh, okay. Hi, I'm .
I find myself during this time not having many words for the centuries-long injustices that have been seemingly been put under wraps for a long time. For Black people, including myself, police brutality and race issues are not new at all ( . . . ) but now better ( . . . ). We see that many of these issues are all connected together. Microaggressions, stereotypes, and bias all help the issue of systemic racism. It invalidates the Black experience in this country and keeps us down. I find myself lucky enough to go to a very high-performing school and live in a very wealthy area. Though I have these privileges, it doesn't take away from the fact that I've experienced these upfront as well as covert expressions of racism. ( . . . ) from hearing the n-word around and they not ( . . . ) all Black people haven't even had it as bad as others in my family slash community. I think now, if not always, it's vitally important that we have conversations on race and racism because we can't just accept it and move on. We have to do we have to do more as a community as individuals in an entire country. I fear for my Black father, I fear for my Black sister, I fear for my Black family members, and I fear for myself every day. But I'm tired of fearing for them and myself, and I desperately, desperately am asking all of us to reflect educate and make change to a broken system. Protests are happening all over the country, and if that isn't an indication that things need change, I don't know what it is. I would like to get rid of that racism just went away after Black people weren't slaves anymore and the civil rights movement provided many advancements. We also during this time need to listen to Black voices and give them the opportunity to share their stories and experiences. Black Lives Matter today, tomorrow, yesterday, and the day before, and as much as i agree with all lives matter Black ones have not mattered equally in the country, and it is so important that they do.
Yes! And , you know I love you.
I love you too!
So , though, you cut out a little bit at the beginning. Could you just go through the first part one more time just so that we don't miss anything?
You sound good now.
Okay, I just said um I find myself during this time not having many words for the centuries-long injustices that have been seemingly been put under wraps for a long time. For Black people, including myself, police brutality and race issues are not new at all new but now better hidden we see many of these issues all that all connect together microaggressions stereotypes and racial bias all help systemic racism. Is that good?
Okay, okay, thank you, and then what I'd like to do students is if you wouldn't mind us having a copy so that we can have those to share with others afterward. Okay, thank you for your kind words. I want to make sure I'm not forgetting anyone else.
Are we good?
All right so we're gonna try this again, and , you're right, they will change the world we need them so desperately.