Oromocto students walk out of classes to protest "daily" acts of racism

·2 min read
Oromocto students walk out of classes to protest "daily" acts of racism

Students marched out of their classes at OHS on Tuesday afternoon to protest the racism Black students and other students of colour are dealing with at the school.

Nearly 150 students gathered in a field where they took in speeches, poems, and personal experiences from classmates about the racist behaviours they've been enduring.

"Like calling me a monkey, calling me the N-word, asking to touch my hair," said Kalkidan Burke, grade 12 student and OHS student president. "The asking to touch my hair, those would be coming from the teachers as well."

Maria Jose Burgos/CBC News
Maria Jose Burgos/CBC News

"I've been called the N-word obviously, I've been called a monkey, many racial terms that shouldn't be used by anybody," said Emmanuelle Jackson, another grade 12 student. "I've been told my skin is dirty."

Maria Jose Burgos/CBC News
Maria Jose Burgos/CBC News

"Are you the one who eats cats and dogs? Will your parents beat you if you don't get an A?" said Hannah Burke, also in grade 12. "These words are a part of me now."

"I have never in my 17 years of life been proud to be Chinese," she said, "I have never felt that I belong at OHS or the Oromocto community."

Students who spoke at the rally say the racism they experience isn't just a few incidents. It's a daily occurrence.

And they feel administration isn't doing enough to combat racist behaviours.

Administration response

Principal Kevin Inch was at the protest, along with a few other administrative staff. He says he understands that students are frustrated to see racist acts going undisciplined.

"We try to be fair and just in all occurrences in whatever the infraction may be in the school," said Inch.

Maria Jose Burgos/CBC News
Maria Jose Burgos/CBC News

Inch says he and the administration has been working with the school's Black history committee to deal with systemic racism and improve education on race issues for both students and staff. Inch points to school assemblies and guest speakers as part of a continuing process to combat racist behaviours.

Allies needed

Another criticism from OHS students has been the lack of action from their fellow classmates to combat what is happening in the school.

"We need more allies," said Taylor Carr, a grade 12 student. "We need more white people speaking up about this issue. It is not the responsibility of the Black students in this school to be solving all of the problems that we have here."

"What I really want to see change is your actions you do in the school," said Kalkidan Burke. "I want to see students standing up against racism when they see it."

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