student testimonies from south philly high

More on the South Philadelphia High School Situation... Last week, more than 200 people packed the school board to speak out against the ongoing racial assaults on Asian students. Dozens of students from South Philly High, who have been boycotting the school, address the School Reform Commission about their experiences and demanded immediate action and a full investigation by the District.

To hear audio of some of the testimony, and to read the written testimonies of several students and community advocates, go to the Asian Americans United website here. Some of the student testimonies are downright devastating.

On Friday, in her first public comments on the racial tension and violence at the school, Principal LeGreta Brown said she was "very disappointed and upset at last week's fights and racism": S. Philly principal, Ackerman speak out on racial tensions.

Goodness, am I reading that right? After all that's gone down, someone at the school is actually officially acknowledging the role of race in the violence? Brown apologized to those hurt in the fights, and said she will "establish a culture where the entire student body feels like one big family." I'll believe it when I see it, LaGreta.

At a news conference, administrators outlined new security measures at the school. Among the steps being taken are: installing 63 new cameras; adding police presence; adding a new administrator; beginning diversity training for students; and implementing a federal Department of Justice program to deal with racial issues.

Superintendent Arlene Ackerman said she would be at the school on Monday and would have private conversations with Asian students and their parents, but would not honor community organizers' requests to meet off-site with the students and with the activists present:
"I will be here to have private conversations with the students and their families," Ackerman said. "I do not intend to have conversations with community leaders."

She said she would meet with the community leaders separately, but not just with Asian community leaders.

"We're not going to continue to make this an Asian versus African American thing," said Ackerman. "This is not just about demands of one racial group. It is about the needs of everyone."

Helen Gym, a board member of Asian Americans United helping to organize the students, said the boycotting students want to share with Ackerman the plan they've come up with this week, but they don't feel safe at the school, and they want to bring those who have aided them.

"It feels deliberately disempowering," said Gym.
These community leaders and organizers stepped in for the Asian students when no one else was speaking out on their behalf -- it sure as hell wasn't the school administrators who were any help when students were getting their asses beat on a daily basis. More here: Asians say officials, not kids, are the problem at South Philly high.

In case you were mistaken, the violence is not a recent problem -- it's been going on for years. Here's a WHYY news story with a former teacher who quit after just eight months because of the racial violence at South Philadelphia High: Teacher says she quit because of racial violence at city school.

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