Controversial student fundraising activities are causing humiliation for school leaders across the nation. For decades, students have been afforded the enjoyment of defraying graduation costs which may soon come to a halt unless there is administrative work completed behind the scenes. Many of the student fundraising activities could have an implication of racism for which school leaders will need to complete a symbolic evaluation before approval.
According to the article, Racism in Schools: California Principal Cancels Auction After Student Compares It To Slavery, a student fundraising activity has come to a screeching halt due to the implications of racism. A northern California high school has decided to eliminate an annual student fundraising activity due to its implications associated with racism.
A John F. Kennedy High School African American senior reminded the school leaders that the activity is racist. According to the senior, “auctioning off a human is all around wrong. Sacramento is one of the top city’s for human trafficking and by doing this you’re encouraging and supporting a price on a human being.” He continued by stating, “we are not property or objects. Putting a price on someone’s worth is wrong. Student should be taught to have respect and value.”
Another reason for protesting the student fundraising activity was that it is held in February which is Black history month. “My ancestors fought for freedom, fought not to be enslaved, sold and separated from their family. Not only that, people are making jokes saying. ‘Oh, hey look, I just bought two slaves’ which is not OK”, said the student.
The student fundraising activity raised money to help to pay for the senior ball. In response to the students’ complaint, principal David Van Natten announced that the student activity was cancelled.
Why is it culturally correct for the Sacramento School Board to cancel the student fundraising activity this year?
The main reason for cancelling the student fundraising activity is to eliminate the perception of racism. The Sacramento City Unified School District student population is 37.1 percent Hispanic or Latino; 17.4 percent Asian; 17.7 percent African American; and 18.8 percent white. About 5.3 percent of students are of two or more races or ethnicities. Even though many students and parents could use the financial help with graduation cost as well as the businesses that were involved would prosper, continuing with this student fundraising activity will only validate the perceptions of Blacks and their parents. For example, when incorporating students into a marginalized society by slavery, conquest, and colonization, students believe school is detrimental to their identity. Blacks, Mexicans, and Puerto Ricans are caste-like immigrants who were involuntarily incorporated into the United States. Involuntary minorities such as Blacks are not willing to perform well in school due to difficulty with crossing cultural lines.
School leaders can avoid the embarrassment associated with student fundraising activities that have an implication of racism by conducting a symbolic evaluation. A symbolic evaluation helps to interpret and illuminate the meanings and beliefs associated with the school’s symbols. School leaders can follow the following steps as they prepare for future student fundraising activities:
- What is the history of the activity?
- What are the core values?
- Do the core values parallel the vision of the school?
- Do the core value parallel the vision of the school district?
- Has the school allowed for input from the community?
- What is the pattern for the activity?
- Are there any individuals or groups who gain the most power from the activity
School leaders can avoid any embarrassments associated with student fundraising activities by symbolic evaluation.
All the best,
Dr. Derrick L. Campbell, Ed.D.
PO Box 4707 Cherry Hill, NJ 08034
Author of Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships and Promoting Positive Racial Teacher Student Classroom Relationships: Methodology
The Raccelerate Phenomenon
Treasures of Hidden Racism in Education
“Dr. Campbell did his part and now all we have to do is run with it.”
~ Tom Coleman ~
Woodstown-Pilesgrove Public Schools Superintendent of Schools
“The model that you use to analyze teacher-student relationships is a good one for most school districts”.
~ Joe Vas ~ Perth Amboy Mayor
“Dr. Campbell’s Cultural Relationship Training Program is comprehensive, informative, and should be required training for all schools”
~ Darrell Pope ~ Hutchinson Kansas NAACP President