If you take a moment to look around Roosevelt, chances are you’ll see a defaced poster, an insult written on a bathroom stall, or a slur being yelled across a crowded hallway. The product of insecurity, adolescence and ignorance, the insensitivity that surrounds the Roosevelt community is undeniable. A few weeks ago during a second period announcement, Principal Brian Vance addressed occurrences of anti-Semitic behavior at Roosevelt. Though the incident addressed was not the only one of its kind, Vance was referring to an anti-Semitic comment written across a poster hung up in the hallway in his announcement. Though incidents like the defacement of posters occur frequently at Roosevelt, they are usually not dire enough to illicit an announcement directed at the entire school.
Most Roosevelt students are either immune to the discriminatory behavior that occurs within our walls, or they simply choose to ignore it. Either way, the prevalence of microaggressions between students points to underlying issues in the Roosevelt community. Aside from the anti-Semitic act addressed in the announcement, there have been other clearly discriminatory acts occurring in recent weeks. For example, there was recently a poster put up in the halls of the gender symbols: male, female and transgender. Only days after the poster was placed, students noticed that the third gender symbol had been completely ripped off. No matter the reason for the vandalism, this behavior is not okay. Acts like this cause marginalized students to feel unsafe, unwelcome and uncomfortable in their own school.
With regards to the vandalism and discriminatory incidents that have occurred this year, Vance states, “There are clearly students feeling disenfranchised.” At this point the Roosevelt administration is attempting to counsel the students they know are behind the worrisome acts, but there is still much more work to be done. “There’s more tension, not just here but everywhere in the past few months,” says Vance. Whether this has to do with the change in administration of the executive branch or other factors, it is clear that these issues of intolerance are not contained to one or two incidences.
Disenfranchisement is not an excuse for intolerance or even the most harmless of hate crimes. The Roosevelt community needs to be reminded that there are real consequences for their actions, and that endangering the wellbeing of others is never funny or justifiable. Just because something may not be offensive to you, doesn’t mean others won’t feel personally attacked by your actions. So please, before you scribble something you think is clever on a poster or let your intolerance dictate your actions, stop and think about the consequences of your behavior.
Photo by: Anika Wheeler