One of two students expelled from a Hayward high school for writing and reciting a list of racial slurs told a disciplinary panel last week the incident wasn't motivated by racism.
In a statement to the panel Friday, the Moreau Catholic High School student said he was influenced by class discussions and a book called "Vulgar Tongues," by Max Decharne. He also apologized and expressed regret in the statement.
The student and a classmate were expelled after one created the list and the other read it aloud in class. The list, titled "The ABCs of Slurs," contained a racial slur for each letter of the alphabet.
The private school released a statement Friday accusing the two boys of causing "immeasurable" harm.
Here is the student's statement in full:
"Ladies and Gentlemen of the committee, good morning. I’d like to begin my statement with an apology to the students and staff members that my actions offended. It was never my purpose nor intent to offend my classmates or any other member of our Moreau Community.
"After careful reflection about what occurred, I understand now that I was naive and insensitive when I treated an investigation of racial slurs as an intellectual exercise, without taking sufficient steps to protect those who did not wish to be exposed to these vile words. I also did not fully appreciate how my actions would place me in such a negative light. I sincerely wish I could go back and undo what happened, but I cannot. All that I can do now is provide the missing context for what occurred and ask that you try your best to judge my actions fairly.
"For as long as I can remember, I have had a desire to learn and understand history. I intend to major in history in college and pursue a career as a history teacher. I recently read a book called: Vulgar Tongues: An Alternative History of English Slang by Max Decharne. The book contained a number of very odd racial slurs and their contextual history.
"In my Social Justice, English, and other classes we have discussed issues of racial justice. I believe that an important step toward achieving racial justice in our society is a real understanding of our past history and how it continues to affect the present. During my study hall period on Monday, after I finished my work, my mind drifted to that book I had read. I wondered if racism was so prevalent in the English language that there was a slur that started with every letter of the alphabet. I did an internet search for slang terms and kept track of the results on a piece of lined paper as I found each one.
"Eventually, I did find 26 racist terms, most old, but at least one that was fairly recent, matching every letter of the alphabet. I was shocked. I could not believe that racism had infected language to that degree and I had a real desire to discuss the issue. I deeply regret what I did next. I turned to my classmate and was telling him about my findings when he read the first slur out loud. I realize now that because of the sensitivity of the topic, I should have approached a teacher to discuss this issue, and not another student.
"Four students were sitting in the back of the room. They heard the slur, came over, and looked at the list. They believed that I had made the list about the four of them and refused to listen to my explanation. I understand that a list of racial slurs towards African Americans is deeply upsetting, especially without any academic context. They were right to be upset.
"However, my intent in creating the list was as an academic inquiry. None of the slurs on that list were intended by me to be directed at or refer to anyone at Moreau or any other person. I am profoundly sorry for any emotional upset or disruption I caused these students or the Moreau Community. I also realize that although it was not my intent to cause any of this, it happened, and there were steps I should have taken to prevent this from happening.
"I also understand the negative light this has placed me in, and that there will be people who will have difficulty accepting my explanation and apology. All that I can hope is that before judging me, people will stop and consider my conduct over the three and a half years I have been a student at Moreau. I have had friendly disagreements with my classmates, but I have always tried to treat the members of this community with dignity and respect. In the end, I hope the members of this community will be willing to extend to me their forgiveness in a spirit of Christian fellowship."