News

Students' racist Instagram post spurs protest at Saint Francis High School

Juakita Berkley kneels alongside her son, Dhani, and her daughter, Nylah, at the corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real during a protest to express opposition to the racist actions of students at Saint Francis High School and call on the school's administration to discipline them, in Mountain View on June 8. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

An estimated 50 to 100 people carried posters and shouted "Black Lives Matter" as they marched on Monday afternoon from Saint Francis High School in Mountain View to the corner of El Camino Real and Castro Street. They were marching to express opposition to the racist actions of students at the private Catholic high school and call on the school's administration to discipline them.

While many carried posters and signs and shouted chants that could have come from any of the many local protests that have been initiated in response to police violence, this protest was in response to an incident closer to home.

About 50 to 100 community members protest at the corner of El Camino Real and Castro Street on June 8. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Current and former Saint Francis students have been tied to an Instagram account that posted a racist image making fun of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.

The image, as indicated in a Change.org petition demanding that the high school discipline the students, refers to Floyd with a racial slur and makes fun of his appearance.

As of Monday evening, the petition had gained more than 3,900 signatures.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

The school investigated the students affiliated with the Instagram account and found additional incidents of racist behaviors, according to Jason Curtis, the high school's president.

The students involved face "serious consequences," Curtis said in an interview. He declined to say what those consequences were, citing privacy concerns for minors.

He confirmed that one of those incidents had involved the use of blackface.

Blackface has a long history of being used to mock African Americans in dehumanizing ways.

A group called "Concerned Parents – Black Lives Matter" created an event on Facebook to organize the march, calling on attendees to show the school's administration that such actions will not be tolerated.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

One of the protest's organizers, Alicia Labana, is African American and a parent of a Saint Francis student. She said she wants the school to take a stronger stand in penalizing the students involved, including one or two students she said appear to be current students, based on online sports rosters. The school has so far only publicly attributed the actions to recent graduates in statements on the school website.

A student of color at the high school who attended the demonstration said that he was protesting because he didn't want the actions of other students to "misrepresent what we stand for," said sophomore Bola Erogbogbo. He said he's experienced racist comments from students at school, in the context of locker room talk that gets out of hand.

Alicia Labana, co-organizer of the protest and parent of a Saint Francis High School student, leads a chant at the corner of Castro Street and El Camino Real in Mountain View on June 8. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Mohamjit Jolly was marching with his family members, who were there in to support friends of his daughter that attend the high school. The family chose not to send their children to Saint Francis because they were told that racism was a problem at the school, he said.

Jolly said he lived in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots. "In the last several decades, that nothing has changed is a travesty," he said.

Jolly, who works in venture capital and is Sikh, said he experienced his own incident as the victim of racism a little more than a week ago in Palo Alto when someone flipped him off and told him, "Go back to where you came from."

Quam Erogbogbo, a parent of a student, said he participated in the protest to highlight that what the students did was unacceptable, and to work on changing the school. The incidents represented an opportunity for the school to become a more conducive place for students to develop empathy, he said. He said he also wanted the school to be more transparent about what disciplinary actions it was taking against the students involved in the racist incidents.

Another parent, who asked not to be named out of concern for repercussions against the student, said that her student had experienced incidents when some white classmates – not all – would not speak to him or her unless they needed to, would ignore him or her, or would otherwise be unfriendly.

She said she also hoped that the school would find ways to foster more diversity and inclusion among parent groups.

In a statement to the St. Francis community acknowledging "the overt acts of racism and misogyny that transpired within our community this week," school administrators pointed to some of the things they've already enacted, and plan to roll out in the next school year.

Over the past school year, the school has created a new Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion program with student, teacher and parent input.

In the fall, administrators plan to audit the school's curriculum, implement an anti-bias curriculum and create an ethnic studies graduation requirement. They also plan to put in place hiring practices to recruit and hire a staff whose demographics reflect the diversity of the Diocese of San Jose.

Chaplain Tony Mancuso marched with the students, as did Curtis, the school's president.

Peace and justice have long been goals of the Roman Catholic faith, Mancuso said, citing a speech from Pope Paul IV in 1972. "If you want peace," he said, "work for justice."

Saint Francis High School sophomore Lily Arangio marches down Castro Street to its intersection with El Camino Real in Mountain View on June 8. Photo by Magali Gauthier.

Craving a new voice in Peninsula dining?

Sign up for the Peninsula Foodist newsletter.

Sign up now

Follow Mountain View Voice Online on Twitter @mvvoice, Facebook and on Instagram @mvvoice for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Students' racist Instagram post spurs protest at Saint Francis High School

by / Mountain View Voice

Uploaded: Mon, Jun 8, 2020, 8:48 pm

An estimated 50 to 100 people carried posters and shouted "Black Lives Matter" as they marched on Monday afternoon from Saint Francis High School in Mountain View to the corner of El Camino Real and Castro Street. They were marching to express opposition to the racist actions of students at the private Catholic high school and call on the school's administration to discipline them.

While many carried posters and signs and shouted chants that could have come from any of the many local protests that have been initiated in response to police violence, this protest was in response to an incident closer to home.

Current and former Saint Francis students have been tied to an Instagram account that posted a racist image making fun of George Floyd, who was killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25.

The image, as indicated in a Change.org petition demanding that the high school discipline the students, refers to Floyd with a racial slur and makes fun of his appearance.

As of Monday evening, the petition had gained more than 3,900 signatures.

The school investigated the students affiliated with the Instagram account and found additional incidents of racist behaviors, according to Jason Curtis, the high school's president.

The students involved face "serious consequences," Curtis said in an interview. He declined to say what those consequences were, citing privacy concerns for minors.

He confirmed that one of those incidents had involved the use of blackface.

Blackface has a long history of being used to mock African Americans in dehumanizing ways.

A group called "Concerned Parents – Black Lives Matter" created an event on Facebook to organize the march, calling on attendees to show the school's administration that such actions will not be tolerated.

One of the protest's organizers, Alicia Labana, is African American and a parent of a Saint Francis student. She said she wants the school to take a stronger stand in penalizing the students involved, including one or two students she said appear to be current students, based on online sports rosters. The school has so far only publicly attributed the actions to recent graduates in statements on the school website.

A student of color at the high school who attended the demonstration said that he was protesting because he didn't want the actions of other students to "misrepresent what we stand for," said sophomore Bola Erogbogbo. He said he's experienced racist comments from students at school, in the context of locker room talk that gets out of hand.

Mohamjit Jolly was marching with his family members, who were there in to support friends of his daughter that attend the high school. The family chose not to send their children to Saint Francis because they were told that racism was a problem at the school, he said.

Jolly said he lived in Los Angeles during the Rodney King riots. "In the last several decades, that nothing has changed is a travesty," he said.

Jolly, who works in venture capital and is Sikh, said he experienced his own incident as the victim of racism a little more than a week ago in Palo Alto when someone flipped him off and told him, "Go back to where you came from."

Quam Erogbogbo, a parent of a student, said he participated in the protest to highlight that what the students did was unacceptable, and to work on changing the school. The incidents represented an opportunity for the school to become a more conducive place for students to develop empathy, he said. He said he also wanted the school to be more transparent about what disciplinary actions it was taking against the students involved in the racist incidents.

Another parent, who asked not to be named out of concern for repercussions against the student, said that her student had experienced incidents when some white classmates – not all – would not speak to him or her unless they needed to, would ignore him or her, or would otherwise be unfriendly.

She said she also hoped that the school would find ways to foster more diversity and inclusion among parent groups.

In a statement to the St. Francis community acknowledging "the overt acts of racism and misogyny that transpired within our community this week," school administrators pointed to some of the things they've already enacted, and plan to roll out in the next school year.

Over the past school year, the school has created a new Social Justice, Equity and Inclusion program with student, teacher and parent input.

In the fall, administrators plan to audit the school's curriculum, implement an anti-bias curriculum and create an ethnic studies graduation requirement. They also plan to put in place hiring practices to recruit and hire a staff whose demographics reflect the diversity of the Diocese of San Jose.

Chaplain Tony Mancuso marched with the students, as did Curtis, the school's president.

Peace and justice have long been goals of the Roman Catholic faith, Mancuso said, citing a speech from Pope Paul IV in 1972. "If you want peace," he said, "work for justice."

Comments

Preaching to the chior
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 6:53 am
Preaching to the chior, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 6:53 am

The racism did not come from people driving by. It came from St Francis grads. I think a better symbol would have been to have the gathering in the quad at St Francis, to address what has come from within their system.

Yelling at people driving and getting hem to honk their horns is fine and good, but I would venture a healthy wager that most all people driving by were sympathetic to the overall issue, but they were not the ones who posted racists stuff.

The drivers on El Camino were also mad at the disgusting things that came from these St. Francis products. Why take to the streets to yell at them? Yah, _WE_ know racism is horrible but apparently _YOUR_ graduates did not. This particular issue won't be fixed by public shows, it will only be fixed internally at St Francis.

"Physician, heal thyself"


Preaching to the chior
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 7:12 am
Preaching to the chior, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 7:12 am

Sorry, last thought on this. If the signs were something like "St Francis Community apologizes and we will take action!", then I could see a larger show for the community being warranted.


Amina
Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 7:15 am
Amina, Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 7:15 am

The protest march was from St. Francis and walked to Castro. So yes it was heard at the heart also.


TT
another community
on Jun 9, 2020 at 9:07 am
TT, another community
on Jun 9, 2020 at 9:07 am

A couple of the students involved were current students I know personally and were friends of my son. I removed my son from St. Francis earlier this year for the unfair and unequal treatment he was receiving at the school. Being African American I do not tolerate this behavior against anyone, not just my son.


JY
Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 11:41 am
JY, Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 11:41 am

St Francis, YES, YOU CAN CHANGE!! Show to the community surrounding your school that we don’t have a bigot amongst us by actions.


BW
Sylvan Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 12:03 pm
BW, Sylvan Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 12:03 pm

This is sad. My husband is African American and graduated from St. Francis in the 80's. He said he did not experience or see what we're reading in this article or have heard about the incident. This is shameful. We should be teaching our kids better.


Michelle Yaley Myers
Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 2:14 pm
Michelle Yaley Myers, Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 2:14 pm

As a Former Student of St Francis and First Graduating Coed Class this is so heartbreaking to me!These kids are old enough to know and should be kicked out for this behavior!!!Racism has NO PLACE ...and Catholic Schools have a Code of conduct or at least they used too...This isn’t about White privileged kid ,money,parents donating...it’s about Hate...and unless we show consequences to this inexcusable behavior how will they learn?!?!?Im grateful for the time I had at St Francis yet I know people that got kicked out for drinking alcohol-So this is acceptable Behavior-It’s all about the Thinking that leads to the actions...These kids need help...


BLACK LIVES MATTER
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 2:33 pm
BLACK LIVES MATTER, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 2:33 pm

Preaching to the chior, its called Awareness, look it up


Former SF student
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 2:50 pm
Former SF student, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 2:50 pm

I am not surprised. I went to high school there and my friends and I used to call it "St. Fascist". Absolutely horrible culture within the school. They really need to change. PS. I transferred schools after 2.5 years because I hated it so much. Do not send your kids to school there.


Former SF student
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 2:53 pm
Former SF student, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 2:53 pm

Also, preaching to the choir, I respectfully disagree with your comment and agree with BLACK LIVES MATTER. Also they have a much better username lol. Not intending to offend you, preaching to the choir, but spreading the message of anti-racism is the only thing that matters. #blacklivesmatter <3


It's become misguided
Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 5:11 pm
It's become misguided, Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 9, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Obviously people who are not AWARE reside within the St Francis community. I also think it should have been an internal SF protest, OR just a regular protest with no ties to SF.

This one particular protes is akin to someone at IBM sending out sexist tweets, and to address it, IBM employees go out on the streets and scream at drivers about how they need to be aware about sexism. Noooo....IBM needs to be aware about sexism. it should be focused on where we see it directly.
Good intentions, misguided application. You're kids though, you'll learn to not only fight the good fight, but to fight an effective fight. I applaud your energy and your intentions.


Green Nude Eel
Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 5:17 pm
Green Nude Eel, Cuesta Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 5:17 pm

Wait a minute. Isn't Ralph Northam a little old to be in high school?


[email protected]
another community
on Jun 9, 2020 at 5:27 pm
[email protected], another community
on Jun 9, 2020 at 5:27 pm

Unfortunate but not surprising that this issue would come up about St. Francis High School. It is indeed daunting that in the 35 years since our kids attended the local Public High School, things apparently haven’t changed much concerning the culture of that school’s mostly wealthy Parent/ Student community with its self satisfied attitude of the Catholic “Private School” superiority. High school has enough “clicks” as it is!
Our teenagers quickly saw the truth of the culture there and smiled, still enjoying their friends who went to St. Francis. Good friends!
As I said above: This latest however, is unfortunate but not surprising.


Easy Fix
Waverly Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 6:03 pm
Easy Fix, Waverly Park
on Jun 9, 2020 at 6:03 pm

If the students are grads going off to college, I'm sure these colleges would like to be informed about the abhorrent behavior of their incoming students. If the colleges think it's egregious enough, admission can be revoked. I've seen it happen before where someone had their Harvard admission rescinded following the college finding out about their activity on social media.


Is it the St Francis leadership?
another community
on Jun 9, 2020 at 6:09 pm
Is it the St Francis leadership?, another community
on Jun 9, 2020 at 6:09 pm

My niece goes to another highly regarded Catholic high school just to our north, and is active in sports and clubs. I asked her about this and she said that their kids don’t generally post stuff like this. Yes, drinking, some drugs, but not this. The admin at St Francis needs a NO TOLERANCE policy towards racism. Parents, TALK to your kids, especially since they’re home with you now. RACISM IS NOT BORN, it’s LEARNED!


Delete Private schools
another community
on Jun 10, 2020 at 6:41 am
Delete Private schools, another community
on Jun 10, 2020 at 6:41 am

Fact is private schools get to do whatever they want and are not accountable to anyone. In SFHS case they also get to hide behind the powerful archdiocese and enjoy all their legal networks ties to Santa Clara County and sports organizations. They are not required to investigate or take disciplinary action to anything. They wouldn’t have told anyone about these posts if it wasn’t abundantly clear it was going to be made public anyway.They will create an ineffective class on racism and make the students in the Social Equity and Inclusion think they are empowered but they won’t make change. I’d like to see them step up to a Complicity Mirror and inventory all the incidents they did not come forward about in the interest of protecting privacy but at the cost of someone else’s (someone less powerful) feeling of inclusion. SFHS does not walk the talk. I can attest first hand.


@anoldliberalwhitewoman
another community
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:56 am
@anoldliberalwhitewoman, another community
on Jun 11, 2020 at 1:56 am

Sorry some drivers-by didn't approve of the march. Maybe they need to look within their hearts for what Really made them uncomfortable. These students weren't just marching to send a message to the students and former students who did that vile stunt. It was about the issue of systemic racism that still exists in this country! More importantly for them, the did not want their school defined by what a couple students did, but rather by the students who did stand up against that act, and against racism in general!!


Whoops
Cuesta Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 8:51 am
Whoops, Cuesta Park
on Jun 11, 2020 at 8:51 am

I was hoping for a more targeted protest, more on point to the issue at St Francis. I would love to attend a protest held on Miramonte in front of the school to demand they take action.

Does anyone have an update on the racist SF students who participated in the posts?


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.