Kamiakin students react to alleged racism at school amid Washington Post story

KENNEWICK, Wash. — A recent story by the Washington Post has Kamiakin High Schoool students reacting to racism alleged by a former student.

Cielo Castor was interviewed by the Washington Post, shining a light on President Trump’s rhetoric and how it changed the way children are harassed in classrooms.

“He announced his candidacy over the summer, so this is my freshman year and a kid told a student ‘Are you going to pay for airfare when Trump deports you?’ and that was the first-ever racist thing that I actually heard,” Castor said in an interview with KAPP-KVEW.

Castor also talks about a football game in October 2018 called “America Night.” She said classmates in the student section displayed a “Make American Great Again” flag and chanted “Build the wall.”

She said she confronted the person leading the chants, trying to get him to stop. He allegedly ignored her and they started to boo Castor.

Castor told KAPP-KVEW that the student was suspended, but the administration didn’t take incidents like that seriously.

“Any incidents like that, they tried to brush it under the rug because they don’t want it to be publicized – that was my understanding,” she said. “And even when the whole event happened, they didn’t really want me talking to the media about it because they didn’t want to get a bad reputation as a school or school district, and I said the reputation is already out there. It’s just people weren’t comfortable enough to say it.”

She said racism is still an issue at the school. Students, who wished to remain anonymous, spoke with KAPP-KVEW about what they’re currently experiencing in the school and how they see teachers are responding.

“I think that teachers should, like, pay more attention because they act like they don’t see it, but it’s really there,” a student said.

That same student said she hasn’t seen any racism, but has seen quite a bit of bullying.

Another student off-camera said her friends have experienced racism. One of the biggest trends from the students though – bullying is still alive.

Many said their friends have experienced negative comments based on their sexual orientation, appearance and disabilities.

According to the Kamiakin High School student handbook, students punished for bullying can face a conference at minimum or up to emergency expulsion. One student said they’ve seen someone bullied, but nothing was done about it.

“I feel like they should be expelled because the fact that they’re doing that on a daily basis and no one is doing anything about it — that’s not OK,” the student said. “I feel like you should be able to go to school and feel like you can be who you are without somebody making you feel less than you deserve to be treated.”

In response to the Washington Post article, the Kennewick School District provided a statement to KAPP-KVEW:

“As a district, we are committed to creating a safe and inclusive learning environment for all the students we serve. Our staff members work hard to educate students that there are a variety of constructive ways to share political viewpoints and have respectful dialogue while being inclusive and valuing all students.”

“I always say stand up for what you believe in no matter what people think,” Castor said. “That’s the scary part, it really it. Putting yourself out there is a scary thing because of the backlash but I told my sister if you see something that you think is not right, you need to stand up.”