While the UC Santa Cruz community addresses the discovery of racially insensitive graffiti around campus, Soquel High School students are facing racially insensitive writing and activities promoting “white power.”
According to a letter to the community from Soquel High School principal Ken Lawrence-Emanuel, a group of students at the school have identified themselves as “WP” for “white pride” or “white power.” In addition to slogans associated with white supremacist groups, swastikas have been found throughout the school — from crudely drawn on pieces of paper to carved into desks.
“When specific students were identified, we contacted the students and talked with them about the power of words and symbols and warned them this behavior would not be tolerated on our campus,” Lawrence-Emanuel’s letter said.
The issue boiled over after students wearing white shirts and bandanas stood as a group in the senior class picture — again, as a statement of “white power.”
A student-initiated rally was recently held in protest of the actions of the select students who have participated in the “white power” demonstrations.
“The students proceeded to the gym and the overall message of the student speakers was: we need to take a stand against this,” Lawrence-Emanuel’s letter said. “This is not the adults’ problem; it is our problem. We don’t want racist behavior on our campus and we all need to speak out against it.”
Many students saw the display of white pride as offensive and spoke out against it.
“The students in attendance understood this was not about freedom to wear what you want,” Lawrence-Emanuel’s letter said. “This was about having a school where everyone is protected from harassment.”