High School Students Launch Petition to Use the N-Word

A petition made the rounds at Marina High School in Huntington Beach, California, asking students of color for permission to use the n-word. The petition led school officials to take corrective measures against two students involved, a school board member said last week. Duane Dishno, president of the Huntington Beach Union High School District, said that the petition was nothing but a “bad joke” on April Fools’ Day, The Los Angeles Times reported.

According to the article, a handwritten petition from a student addressed to “Brown People” circulated at the school. A student who took offense snapped a photo, shared it on social media, and reported the incident to the principal after school hours, the Times quoted Dishno as saying.

The parents of the students who created the petition were contacted, and their children were disciplined the following day. Dishno said that the students felt remorse following the prank. “Kids made a mistake,” Dishno said. “It’s been dealt with. Everyone is OK.”

Some students, however, did not consider this a laughing matter. “The fact that this boy has the audacity to ask me and my melanin girly to sign an n-word pass is appalling and a perfect representation of marina high school,” a student wrote over the images of another classmate holding the petition, the Times noted. “If you’re from my school please give me this boys @. Please this is disgusting. Y’all can think it’s a joke all you want. This is GROSS and wrong and for you to say the n-word isn’t used like that anymore how...”

Some parents believe that the way the district has addressed the joke was inappropriate. “This is more than a silly joke,” one parent told the Times. “I think the way [the administration] dealt with it is extremely unfortunate. It was an opportunity to educate students on culture and on hate crimes, racism, and bullying.” The use of the n-word has become prevalent in some centers of education. ABC Arizona reported in early March that a group of white Scottsdale middle school students were caught saying the racial slur on video. The incident took place during a Civil Rights history lesson, which intended to teach students about why the word is racist and offensive, the principal at Mountainside Middle School told the news channel.

The principal, the vice principal, and the teacher issued a written apology to the parents of the students in the class.

In February, Boston’s Cambridge School Committee pledged to open an investigation into committee member Emily Dexter’s use of the n-word during a classroom panel at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School in January, WGBH reported. Dexter, who is white, apologized to Kevin Dua — a Black history teacher who was part of the panel — and the students. However, Dua felt that her apology was insincere.

About the Author

Robert Valencia is the breaking news editor for The North Star. His work as editor and reporter appeared on Newsweek, World Politics Review, Mic.com, Public Radio International and The Miami Herald, among other outlets. He’s a frequent commentator on foreign affairs and US politics on Al Jazeera English, CNN en Español, Univision, Telemundo, Voice of America, C-SPAN, Sirius XM and other media outlets across Latin America and the Caribbean.