DSHA students walk out over video featuring racial slur

Divine Savior Holy Angels High School (DSHA) administrators said Tuesday Feb. 16 an investigation began immediately regarding the student using a racial slur, including disciplinary steps. Students who walked out of class, Thursday,  said that's not good enough. 

DSHA students said they don't just want statements. They want action. 

With signs that read, "Silence is compliance," and, "Silence is violence," students walked out of class Thursday afternoon. 

"From the video, when I saw it I wasn’t surprised," said Dami Awosika, senior. "I was disappointed but I was not surprised."

The video shows two students whispering and laughing, and at one point saying "...There's an actual (racial slur)..." The caption reads, "Of course, it's the stinky ones." 

The school says the video was recorded off campus. 

Senior Laetitia Faye says she's fed up. 

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"I think right now it’s been the breaking point," said Faye. "We had a student say a word that shouldn’t be said, and I think right now as a school, we’re trying to gather together because we’re hurting.  Our community is hurting. Parents are hurting, and we’re tired of it."

The students say in order to move forward, policy changes need to be put in place immediately. 

"Introducing things in our education system as in freshman seminars, having anti-racist classes and have people taking implicit bias training, as well as counteracting it with policy and education within our classes will do better for the DSHA community," said Awosika. 

"We need something that’s tangible -- something that will help future DSHA-ers coming into our school so that it’s a safe place for them," said Faye.

Statement from DSHA administration

"Divine Savior Holy Angels High School stands shoulder to shoulder with our students as they work to promote social justice, and the school fully supports the increased efforts of our students to enhance diversity, inclusion, and equity throughout the entire DSHA school community. Our goal is to give our students and staff the tools and support they want and need to remain active and involved in this important issue, and the school’s leadership believes that the effort should include everyone and involve all members of the school community. We are proud that DSHA students are standing up for what they believe is right.

"At the same time, we know that there are challenges ahead, including an incident involving a video in which racial slurs were used that occurred off campus involving students. We are categorically opposed to the use of any and all racist language or action, and our school community is deeply committed to building a safe and equitable space for all of our students. Still, our Catholic faith teaches forgiveness, but there will be significant consequences for students who engage in conduct contrary to our principles of inclusion and equity, including engagement in a restorative justice process.

"As a Catholic, Salvatorian high school whose mission is rooted in social justice, we are categorically opposed to the use of any and all racist language and behavior by our students, faculty or staff.  We teach our students that Black and Brown lives are sacred, and rooted in our mission, is to provide all of our students with a safe, secure, and respectful environment free from discrimination and harassment. We also teach repentance, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

"To our students and families of color, we recommit ourselves to listening to you, to working with you and to standing alongside you to help ensure that DSHA becomes a beacon of justice and equality in the ongoing fight against racism in all of its forms."