Los Gatos High: Just because it’s ‘funny,’ doesn’t mean it’s not racist

Vaibhav Vijaykar

At Los Gatos High School, two controversial prom proposals centered around “blackface” and lynching, stirred up concern after being universally condemned as racist.

In the former, a white student decided to imitate his online bitmoji persona — black-skinned with a blue mohawk — through the use of blackface.

This usage of blackface for the purposes of comedic appeal reveals a common misunderstanding of how racism often manifests itself: it does not have to be intentional to be racist. In fact, the student plainly said it “wasn’t his intention [to be racist].” Many cases of appropriation feature a similar type of ‘it was unintentional” apologetics.

Here in the Bay Area, we often parade our alleged liberalism, with the instinctive assumption that we now live in a post-racial society because of our supposed diversity. But in local schools like Los Gatos High, where you can count the number of black students on one hand, incidents like these are hardly surprising.

I, myself, went to Cupertino High, where only 5 of out 520 students in my senior class were of African-American descent, which is less than 1%. The case is similar for other local schools such as Monta Vista or Lynbrook. The notion that our society encompasses all perspectives and views because of a liberal agenda is misleading.

In a separate asking, another student depicted a man being lynched with the posters reading, “Do you want to be like a n•••a and hang at PROM?”  This scene of blatant racism is different than the blackface prom ask, right?

Well, the two cases of racism depict a singular revelation about how bigoted beliefs can be manifested in society––the comedic normalization of racism.

Again, the presupposition is that within our Bay Area bubble, racism ceases to exist because of cultural, racial, and ethnic diversification. However, hidden under the guise of diversity, a deceptive reality does persist; especially in cities such as Los Gatos, where wealthy white citizens comprise a supermajority.

In this circumstance, environment breeds an inherent lack of understanding. Although it is not the fault of the schools or the cities, such demographics can shape thought. A voice unheard means a perspective goes unseen, the lack of a black presence means the loss of a black viewpoint.

In essence, a larger underlying problem regarding the intrinsic infusion of racist thought into our everyday lives is presented through these circumstances. A resolution to this issue of bigotry is neither simple nor direct, so it is vital to dissect how an individual can unconsciously embody racism.

To combat the growth of these racist dogmas, schools such as Los Gatos should integrate a program that educates students on diversity to foster a culture of  awareness.
These occurrences underscore a specific facet of racist ideology and allow us to see the devastating implications of unintentional racist conduct. Hopefully, these incidents will generate conversations on how we can mitigate horrific acts of racism.