An Instagram account titled “Black Bay Area” re-posted two troubling photos on their page this weekend, accusing the initial post of racism.
The pictures show what appear to be members of the California High School varsity cheer team posing with a Black mannequin head and they refer to it as their mascot -- which they named Kareem.
“That is not something that we can accept, nor will we tolerate,” said San Ramon Valley Unified School District Superintendent Dr. John Malloy.
He said he’s deeply concerned as the district has been expanding its on-campus sensitivity training and was shocked to see the team share something that seems so obviously insensitive.
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“We don’t accept this. We understand that it’s wrong, and we also understand that it’s harming some members of our community more than others – especially those who may identify as Black or African American,” said Malloy.
A senior said it has been a hot and divisive topic on campus Monday.
“They think it’s like a joke, or it’s funny or something like that, and they don’t realize that it actually has implications,” said Aditya Sathyanarayanan.
A sentiment shared by a mom who lives in the neighborhood.
“If they meant it as a statement, they should have clarified that. If they meant it as a joke, it’s not funny,” said Angelica Tucker.
She has two young daughters who she believes might want to try out for the cheer team at California High someday and hopes this can be a teachable moment.
“It can open up their eyes to the fact that there’s no representation that looks like them on the cheerleading squad, and maybe they will be the first ones to do it,” said Tucker.
She said she hopes the team becomes diverse more immediately so kids like her daughters feel like it’s a goal they too can achieve in a few years.
The superintendent says the district may need to expand its sensitivity training to make sure another incident like this doesn’t happen again.