Racial Bullying Persists in Northern California
Racial bullying continues to occur at a Northern California high school, even after several students from the Pit River Tribe took a stand against peers who have systematically taunted and belittled them.
Verbal attacks are escalating, said 12-year-old Alexis Elmore, a seventh-grader at Burney Junior-Senior High School.
“They tell me I’m disgusting because I’m Indian,” Alexis said. “They call us wagon burners, dirty Indians and savages.”
Two Pit River students already transferred to other schools after they found notes reading “Watch Your Red-skinned Back” and “White Pride Bitch” on their lockers last month. The notes came as Native students held elections for their Native Youth Council. Campaign materials like posters and stickers were defaced.
Alexis, who ran for treasurer, campaigned with pictures of herself dancing at a powwow.
“Girls came up to me and told me it was witchcraft, and it was wrong,” she said, adding that the bullying began last fall and now has expanded to social media.
Alexis and several other students came forward last month to talk about the constant bullying and an apparent lack of response from school and district authorities. Greg Hawkins, superintendent of the Fall River Unified School District, did not return phone calls seeking comment.
Parents reported the notes to the Shasta County Sheriff’s Office. The case was sent to the major crimes unit, where deputies continue to investigate whether a hate crime has occurred, deputy Seth Edwards said.
The school, which houses grades seven through 12, has a Native student population that is higher than average for the county and state. According to data from the California Department of Education, 27 Native students attended Burney Junior-Senior High School last year, or about 12 percent of the total student population.
There are almost 1,400 Native students in Shasta County or about 5 percent of the total, and about 40,500 Native students in the state, or roughly one-half of one percent of the total student population.
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