Black Student Union Seeks to Change Campus Culture

Club Profile: BSU was founded in response to racist post


Jaden Taylor and other students speak to the media after meeting with teachers about a racist internet post.

Jada Bailey and Synia Thrower

What started in response to a racist internet posting, became an influential campus organization aimed at stopping hatred and educating the campus about African American culture. 

The Black Student Union organized as a way to channel frustration after an unknown person posted on Aug. 17 a screenshot of the school website that had been altered to include extremely racist language and said African Americans were not welcome on campus and that the KKK would patrol hallways. (The actual website was not attacked, but the poster had changed it on their own computer and then posted the altered content.)

When students found out about it, the post spread around campus via text and social media. 

Being a black student at a predominantly white school that was hard to deal with. 

Principal Brian Ginter, the San Juan District and the FBI investigated the post. And Principal Ginter condemned the post on the actual school website. 

“This post is incredibly hurtful to our school community and our staff has been working diligently since discovering it to investigate,” he said. “We do not tolerate this kind of hate.”

But black students have had to tolerate hateful comments for years. 

In comments to the San Juan School Board that were later reprinted as an op-ed in the Mirada school paper, Amadeus Romero expressed concerns felt by black students.

“I don’t expect many of you here to understand how I and my teammates and school mates feel or how we are effected by this derogatory post. I don’t know if you are aware that the abuse we endure here on Rio’s campus did not begin or end with that post. Who thought that in 2019 we would still be subjected to racists slurs while walking the halls.”

African American students met first with the principal and then with all teachers to express that even if the post was a fake, all had experienced real racism at Rio. Teachers listened as students shared their experiences, and participants called it a positive start. 

The Black Student Union grew out of these panels.

 “Black Student Union is an Organization/Club that gives African Americans a voice on campus that is sometimes unaware of what it is like to be a Black student on a predominantly white campus. It also supports African Americans and affirms our culture. It’s a family,” said senior Jalen Taylor.

According to recent data from the California Department of Education, African-American students represent 3.5% of the student population at Rio Americano. The campus is 62.9% white students. 

Since its founding, the club has aimed to create community and educate the campus on what is to be a black teenager. 

The club has other goals for education.

“We want to feel protected at school and during sports practice,” Romero said. “We want black educators for math, English and history, and not just physical education,” Romero said.

What Romero told the board could stand as a mission statement for the club: I want you “to see me and my brothers and sisters with (your) hearts and not (your) eyes and make a change on our behalf.”