Students and parents in one East Bay school community are reacting over seemingly racist imagery, posted to social media depicting a nearly all-white stunt team grinning and posing with a Black mannequin head.
The superintendent of the San Ramon Valley Unified School District is now speaking out, vowing to make changes.
"Unfortunately a lot of people think it's funny," says Rebecca Alioto. One of the many students at California High School who has an opinion on the set of two photos, circulating on TikTok and Instagram.
"Probably makes a lot of people uncomfortable," says Alioto.
Before @CaliforniahsCheer deleted their page on Instagram, an account called @theblackbayarea took screenshots and posted to their page, drawing attention to the photos. The images show what appear to be the nearly all-white members of the Cal High stunt team, grinning, and posing alongside a Black mannequin head, the type that would be typically used in a cosmetology class, according to Superintendent John Malloy.
"I was like this absolutely makes no sense," says Cal High student Raina Crawford.
The head was allegedly being used as the team's unofficial mascot, instead of the school's real mascot, the grizzly bear. Some online claim the head even had a name. The imagery, which has been circulating on social media and has garnered thousands of comments and impressions, left student Ryan Rose with many questions.
"What are we going to do about it? Instead of getting more people to see it. I don't see much action being taken. It's not the first time something like this has happened," said Rose.
According to Malloy, the investigation into this incident is ongoing and there are plans to meet with all parties involved. He acknowledged the need for more training.
"We have worked with our students, our staff, our administrators. Having said that though, most of our work has happened with our administrators. Going forward we're going to spend more time supporting our staff, not only to interrupt any issues of discrimination but to educate so our students and community better," said Malloy.
Malloy was adamant their actions were not prompted by social media.
"We don't accept (what happened) and we understand it's wrong. We understand it's harming some members in the community... that is not okay," said Malloy.
Some students hope this was a case of ignorance, instead of ill-intent.
"I don't think they're purposely doing it to be racist because our school definitely preaches equality," says Crawford.
"We need to accept people and understand our actions can have consequences even if that's not our intent," said Cal High student Ava Chestnut.
The district says they were made aware of the posts on Saturday. Many on one social media post chimed in to say parents and community members were the ones who sounded the alarm.
Rose commends parents for doing their part in alerting the school but thinks more needs to be done, at home.
"I'm curious what they're telling their kids because that's the important part. It's the kids that can help stop this from happening again," said Rose.
The pages, belonging to the unofficial stunt team where the images were posted appear to have been taken down.
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