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Ignorant Teenage Stunt Or Blatant Racism? I Blame The Parents

By Monica Bielanko |

Ignorant prank or blatant racism?

Parents packed into a Utah high school last night to discuss racism allegations at Alta High School.  Members from Canyons School District and a member from the federal Department of Justice fielded questions from the public at the meeting.

The Canyons School District has been investigating what they are calling very serious cases of alleged racism at Alta High School after a white junior, during a March 17 spirit assembly in which juniors wore white, donned what looked like a Ku Klux Klan hood, which had holes for his eyes.

Larz Cosby, a multiracial student, complained to the school’s administration and blogged about the KKK incident.

“Who in their right mind would plan to blatantly enforce their hate for others in a large gathering in a public school? How is it a joke? How is that funny?…My experience is that to be a nonwhite individual is a bad thing at Alta High School.”

Cosby’s blog post has drawn more than a thousand comments, ranging from praise for his decision to come forward to criticism that he is merely trying to get attention. Some of the comments include threats of physical violence and racial epithets aimed at Cosby. The school district says comments on the blog are very disturbing and make it clear education is needed at Alta High and in the community.

Two more students are being accused of racist behavior after investigators say they found text messages exchanged depicting burning crosses.

Principal Mont Widerberg and Assistant Principal Mark Montague were placed on leave during the investigation but Wilderberg later announced his retirement by sending a letter to the Canyons School District.

While some students display an alarming lack of concern over the incident, others are speaking out. Davonte Merritt, a senior at Alta High who is black, tells The Salt Lake Tribune he was “furious” when he saw the student wearing a KKK-type hood repeatedly dart onto the basketball court and run in circles, making a heil Hitler salute.

“On the second or third time, I wondered why no one had stepped in and stopped him,” Merritt said. “A lot of the people are thinking this has been blown way out of proportion. … I think that what needs to happen is going to happen.”

Merritt said he lives in the same neighborhood as the student involved, and both come from Mormon families.

“I honestly don’t think it was his family or him even [who] was racist or intended it to be. But what other way can you intend it to be? You put that [white hood] on, that’s a symbol for something. I don’t think he’s a bad kid. I just think he made a really bad choice, a really stupid decision.”

Canyons School District says the problem with racism is much larger than the pep rally incident which is why they asked the Department of Justice for help. The district is hoping the tension and concerns of alleged racism at Alta will be assuaged after their investigation is complete and after the Justice Department talked with students’ parents and local residents, which is what last night’s meeting was all about.

Residents waited for what was supposed to be a half-hour meeting that turned out to be a two-hour closed-door meeting.
Canyons board members aren’t commenting about the closed-door session but say they will release further information in the coming days about their finding of alleged racist acts that occurred at Alta High.

They’re still asking whether this was a teenage prank? Come on! I don’t understand how a 16 or 17-year-old, in this day and age, can be unaware of what a KKK costume represents. And the heil Hitlers? Explain that. It sounds like education is desperately needed at Alta High School, but it should’ve started with parents at home. Not just with the parents of the jackass that wore the KKK costume, but the parents of every idiot who left threatening comments on Larz Cosby’s blog.

Good riddance to the principal who resigned – how did no one in a position of authority yank the KKK wearing fool out of the school the minute his foot hit the gym floor? The student who wore the hood should be expelled and they should track down each and every student who left a threatening comment on the blog and expel them as well. School officials should have a zero tolerance policy in response to racism and hate crimes.

See students react to the alleged incident in the video below:

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About Monica Bielanko


Monica Bielanko

Monica Bielanko was raised on the wild frontier of late 1970's Utah. She is a recovering Mormon who married the guitar player of an unknown band. She's been married to her Babble Voices writing partner, Serge Bielanko, for the past nine years. Her personal blog, The Girl Who was in the top ten of last year's Top 50 list. Read bio and latest posts → Read Monica's latest posts →

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3 thoughts on “Ignorant Teenage Stunt Or Blatant Racism? I Blame The Parents

  1. Rebecca C says:

    Personally, if it had JUST been the student wearing the hood, I would write it off as a stupid teenage joke (worthy of punishment, absolutely, but not worthy of DOJ involvement). I could definitely see some of the kids I knew in high school thinking they are super clever for throwing on a white hood when everyone is wearing white (“hurhurhur, look what I did. I’m making a funny commentary on us being asked to wear white by comparing it to the KKK!”).
    However, it sounds like there was a lot more involved than this because of the text messages and the salute. Also, I completely agree about the principal. How on earth did no teacher/admin think to stop him?

  2. Jen says:

    Not that this wasn’t wrong but it has to be the tamest form of racism I’ve ever seen whether it be against white, black, or other. Being a minority is a matter of situation no matter what your race or religion. I am white but I was the minority in my school/neighborhood. I wish all that the African American kids did to me was dance around imitating the Moors (African) who enslaved and slaughtered my people (Sicilian). I could have laughed that off but unfortunately I wasn’t that lucky. I had sunflower seeds and candy spit in my hair everyday and that was on a good day when they didn’t feel like choking biting or raping me or one of the other 2 white girls in the school. The bus driver tried to stop it but was hit in the head with a rock and sent to the hospital and never came back to work. Rather than deal with a bunch of parents screaming racism the school thought it was easier to have me walk 20 minutes to a different bus route but that only worked for the first week till they knew where to find me. By the end of 8th grade I had a breakdown and was ordered by the hospital not to return to school. That only worked for the rest of that year as the next year we all met again in HS. My solution was to date the biggest scariest guy in the school that not even the teachers would talk to. He was abusive but at least with him he was the only one beating me. Better to fight one than 50.

    My point is that kind of behavior is wrong no matter who the victim is but it happens everyday to every race only no one cares to report it unless the crime is white on black. I mean you would think that an attempted gang rape that resulted in a bus driver being severely injured would make the news and it would have if the races were reversed. Guess what not all white people had relatives in this country during slavery days. None of my family ever owned a slave of any color. Yet my family was enslaved by black beople generations ago. I don’t owe you any apologies for my relatives owning your relatives because they never did. I don’t think you owe me any apologies for your relatives that did own mine either. I will not pay for others sins and you shouldn’t either. Just don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. If you are one of the kids who did that to me you know who you are and I hope someone sodomises you one day, karma is waiting for you.

  3. Guest65 says:

    I was going to point out that this really seems like a typical teenage silly/stupid act, kind of like streaking during a pep rally, that got blown out of proportion because today’s youth are taught they are never to see/hear anything offensive or they win the lottery through some ACLU lawyer.
    I too was white in a mostly black school and I was going to put my two cents in about how much fun that is but I can’t compete with Jen. However, I second her vote; this is nothing compared to what takes place in reverse. Tell the kids -all of them- to grow up and get back to their schoolwork.
    Google Autum Ashante if you want to see racism at a school pep rally. Even her delivery of it is tame compared to what I experienced.

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