Expose racism in schools

Posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2004

I am disappointed to learn that the degree of racism that I experienced when I attended school here twenty years ago has changed little. The words and thoughts of the Native high school students recently printed in the Empire echo those of many Tlingit, Haida and other minority young people who've passed through those halls before.

I can recall vividly the feeling of being openly humiliated in a class of non-Natives. What made it worse was the sense of betrayal that I felt when the teacher said nothing in response to the event or offender. The crucial difference between then and now, however, is that there were no newspaper articles on the racism present in the schools. In fact, there was little discussion of it at all (except among the targets).

So, kudos to the Juneau Empire for airing our dirty laundry that has been hidden for far too long. Maybe by the time my 6-year-old daughter arrives in middle school she'll spend less time than I did wondering why she and her relatives are considered unimportant and more time focusing on her classes and the healthy social activities that students should be experiencing.

Mary J. Owen


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