California Students Draw Horrific Racist Images for Black History Month

A California school district is scrambling during Black History Month after elementary students drew racist cards for their Black classmates, leaving many in the community questioning the district’s culture.

“These cards were passed out to the Black kids at my grandchildren’s school…Pepper Tree Elementary, for Black History Month,” Earlie Douglas posted on Facebook on Feb. 17. “My grand daughter was told that they were making her one for her that says ‘you are my favorite slave’ and they were drawing a picture of a slave hanging from a tree.”

Along with the post, Douglas attached images of the alleged drawings. In one illustration, “To my favorite cotton picker” is written over a crayon-colored field of cotton on a sheet of paper folded in half.

“HAPPY BLACK HISTORY MONTH,” reads the inside of the makeshift card. “The group will be nice to you all month,” it says with a smiley face. On the opposite page, a stick figure stands in a field with a sign that indicates there’s no more cotton picking.

In a second handmade card, there are two trees with what appears to be a noose hanging between them. Inside the card, a picture of a monkey is drawn that says, “Your [sic] my favorite monkey.”

The post immediately made traction online, garnering dozens of shares and a slew of comments.

“Comprehensive and appropriate grade level United States history should be taught from K-12 and beyond,” someone commented under Douglas’ post. “The parents, teacher and administration have dropped the ball. I am a Black woman raised in the then segregated south, this re-enforces my experiences.”

“As a fellow Pepper Tree parent, I’m appalled and disgusted by this and offer my sincerest apologies to your grandchildren and any other students that are having to go through this,” an Upland resident wrote.

According to local outlet KTLA, the mother of a sixth-grade student pulled her daughter from Pepper Tree after she felt the district wasn’t doing enough to address the issue.

Upland Unified School District, located just east of Los Angeles, released a video statement Friday apologizing for the drawings. However, the district did not provide any other information as to what prompted the drawings or information regarding students who were involved.

“Recent racially insensitive, unacceptable incidents have taken place in our schools,” district board president Truman Garnett said. ‘We deeply regret the hurt that this behavior has caused our students, families, and our community. …I want to make it perfectly clear that we have a strict zero-tolerance policy on any type of hate speech; harassment; discriminatory practices, behaviors; racial slurs; and any report of these actions will be investigated thoroughly and immediately.”

If deemed necessary, he claimed the district would take “disciplinary action without hesitation.”

In the three-minute video, superintendent Lynn Carmen Day said she was “stunned and disappointed to hear” about what had happened.

“I’m actually heartbroken,” she said. “We understand that learning is hindered if students don’t feel safe.”

She added that the district will work to build racial equity and make sure students understand the ramifications of racist bullying.

All students deserve respect, love, safety, and a sense of belonging at school,” she stressed.

In a statement, the Pepper Tree Elementary School Parent-Teacher Association said it stood “firmly against racism in all forms and the culture of oppression that permeates the United States.”

“I am posting this initial statement, so there is no confusion about where Pepper Tree Elementary PTA stands on the recent racist activity on campus,” President Robin Allen said in the statement. “Racist incidents and bullying in all forms particularly racial bullying is outrageous, egregious and will not be tolerated. Our children cannot grow up in this environment.”

Pepper Tree Elementary, a school for kindergarten through sixth grade, highlights its racial and ethnic demographics when boasting about diversity on its website.

“Pepper Tree staff and parents work collaboratively to foster a sense of individual responsibility while developing self-esteem,” reads the school’s mission statement. “Dignity for both adults and students underlies the fabric of the school’s climate and each and every student-staff interaction.”

Neither Pepper Tree Elementary nor Upland Unified School District immediately returned The Daily Beast’s request for comment Tuesday.

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