Video of teens shout­ing slurs shocks res­i­dents

Conejo Val­ley school district con­firms two of the youths shown in car are stu­dents.

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Son­ali Kohli son­ali.kohli@la­ Twit­ter: @Son­al­i_Kohli

A vi­ral so­cial me­dia video of teenagers shout­ing racial slurs and deroga­tory com­ments about black peo­ple has shocked Ven­tura County res­i­dents and prompted ed­u­ca­tors to ad­dress the mat­ter.

The video, which shows at least four teenagers rap­ping and shout­ing in a car, was posted to Twit­ter on Mon­day with the hash­tag #StopRacism.

At one point, some­one in the car says “black peo­ple, they’re … [N-word].” The teens then shout the N-word re­peat­edly.

The Conejo Val­ley Uni­fied School District has con­firmed that two of the teens in the video are stu­dents. The district has de­clined to say which schools the stu­dents at­tend or whether dis­ci­plinary ac­tion had been taken against them.

“Be­cause th­ese are mi­nors, we can’t go into de­tails about what dis­ci­plinary ac­tion, if any, was taken,” district spokes­woman Heather Kawai said. “It’s not that there’s noth­ing that we can do or noth­ing that was done, it’s just that we can’t con­firm that.”

She pointed out that the stu­dents were not on school prop­erty and school was not in ses­sion. The stu­dents in the video ap­pear to be in a car driv­ing af­ter dark.

In a state­ment, the district said, “The lan­guage and opin­ions ex­pressed in the rap song that re­cently sur­faced in a video on­line are not rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the District, the Gov­ern­ing Board, or District staff. It is un­for­tu­nate that the song and video were made and posted on so­cial me­dia.”

The state­ment also said the district is com­mit­ted to pro­vid­ing “a dis­crim­i­na­tion­free, ha­rass­ment-free, bul­ly­ing-free ed­u­ca­tional en­vi­ron­ment.”

Of the district’s nearly 19,000 stu­dents, 56% are white, 26.4% are Latino, 9.8% are Asian and 1.4% are black, ac­cord­ing to the Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion.

The Twit­ter user who posted the video de­clined a re­quest for com­ment Fri­day. The se­quence ap­pears to be a record­ing of a video played on a cell­phone.

The teenagers in the video ap­pear to be lis­ten­ing to Drake’s 2015 track “Leg­end,” and the song’s lyrics in­clude the N-word. But the words the teens are shout­ing are nowhere in the orig­i­nal track.

With classes sched­uled to re­sume Aug. 23, some peo­ple say the district needs to do more to fight racism.

The mother of a black West­lake High School stu­dent said she has com­plained to school ad­min­is­tra­tors in the past about stu­dents us­ing the N-word to and around her child, but they have failed to ad­dress the is­sue. The mother asked not to be named be­cause she feared her child would be ha­rassed if she spoke pub­licly.

Mia Tay­lor, a 17-year-old who re­cently trans­ferred out of West­lake High to at­tend a more di­verse school, said she had sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ences.

Stu­dents ca­su­ally “say a lot of racial slurs, a lot of dis­crim­i­na­tory things,” said Tay­lor, who is bira­cial. “They think it’s funny. It’s not funny.”

Thou­sand Oaks High School Prin­ci­pal Lou Lichtl did not re­turn re­quests for com­ment Fri­day morn­ing, but seemed to con­firm on Twit­ter that one of the teens is a stu­dent at his school.

“We cer­tainly do not con­done this type of of­fen­sive be­hav­ior and it has been ad­dressed,” he tweeted Tues­day, in re­sponse to Twit­ter users de­mand­ing ac­tion. “We will con­tinue to mon­i­tor and ad­dress as needed.”

In a fol­low-up tweet, Lichtl wrote, “You can­not judge an en­tire com­mu­nity based on one act.”

West­lake High Prin­ci­pal Ja­son Bran­ham told the Ven­tura County Star that the school is in­ves­ti­gat­ing whether there was stu­dent in­volve­ment in the video.

Bran­ham did not re­turn re­quests for in­ter­views.

Thou­sand Oaks High par­ent Jan Cooper told CBS that she thinks the reper­cus­sions should be se­vere.

“I think they should be ex­pelled,” Cooper said. “As a joke, do you find that funny? I don’t find that funny. I find it very racist, and I find it very of­fen­sive.”

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