Videos of High School Students Calling Others ‘Apes,’ Appearing to Wear Blackface Spark Outrage in Phelan

By and KTLA5 

A high school in Phelan is grappling with the release of videos showing students making racist gestures and statements, from appearing to wear blackface to calling some of their peers "apes," as parents meet Friday and the school hosts activities intended to bring students together.

"F---ing apes" can be heard coming from the mouth of a white student in one video, a Snapchat clip that shows what appears to be a school rally with some black students dancing before the boy turns the camera on himself and says the racist remark.

Another video shows a girl wearing dark-colored face make-up and putting on lip gloss while saying "I want her to make it look like Mokesha" and then giggling. A third clip shows a group of people walking around holding up a Confederate flag.

A representative from the Snowline Joint Unified School District confirmed the videos were of students from Serrano High School. In the aftermath of the videos' release, students protested through a walk out and the district superintendent penned a letter Thursday calling them incidents of "discrimination" and "hatred."

Sabrina Cisneros, a 16-year-old who attends the school, asked the school district board to pass a resolution called SAFE, or "Safe Area For Everyone," that would address "issues of hate" and make all students feel safe on campus, the Victorville Daily Press reported.

On Thursday, over 300 students took part in a conversation about the videos, an activity that actually came at the request of students, Ryan Holman, the district superintendent, wrote in a letter to parents posted on Twitter.

That conversation grew intense at some points, as some students and parents told KTLA the racist videos posted to social media aren't isolated incidents and the school district has struggled to tame a tide of racism on its campuses.

Cisneros said she has been called a "dirty Mexican" by someone else on campus. Brittany Keeley, a parent at the school, said she moved to a different area for the safety of her two children, who are black.

"Because it's a small community, you feel that you cannot have a voice," she said.

The following day, on Friday, the school hosted a parent meeting to address concerns about racism at the school — another event that got heated. Socorro Cisneros, a parent who attended, said she could hear a man leaving the meeting saying "You need to get those effing N-word out of here."

"And that is prevalent," she said of the remark.

Keeley said there's "a lot more work" that needs to be done to fight the racist sentiments throughout the school district.

"I think they're trying to be progressive, but they're being progressive in a slow way," Sabrina Cisneros said.

Holman said school district administrators will try to learn from the conversations among parents and students.

"The information gathered was brought to Serrano High School employees at the end of the day in a staff meeting so as to direct their ongoing efforts to best educate, nurture, and support all students," Holman wrote in a letter to parents, describing the conversation among students at Serrano High as "positive, productive, safe, and educational."

Read more: America the Ugly Racist

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