African American Mounds View alumni demand racial equality

May 29th, 2020

Dear Principal Bruggers, Associate Principal Martin, Associate Principal Schwartz, Superintendent Lennox, Chair Weinhagen, Vice-Chair Glasheen, Board Member Westerman, Board Member Bock, Board Member Danielson, Board Member DeMay, and Board Member Sager,

Recently, another unarmed black man, George Floyd, was murdered at the hands of four Minneapolis police officers on Monday, May 25th, 2020. As we grieve and process this tragic death and loss, we, as black students and Mounds View alum, want to extend our resources and invite black students to take solace in Mounds View’s black community.

As there has been more awareness spread around this tragedy, especially awareness through social media, we have received messages from black students describing their frustration and lack of community at Mounds View as they attempt to process the trauma caused by repeated incidents of police brutality and anti-black racism. These incidents and their effects have yet to be addressed by the administration. At this time, no statements condemning Floyd’s murder or offering support to students have been released, and this silence has been a pattern at Mounds View for years.

It is no secret that black students continuously experience racism and microaggressions by white faculty and peers at Mounds View. We have expressed our concerns about the lack of racial awareness during our time as students. Attending Mounds View as a black student was an overwhelming experience. There were many racial barriers we were forced to overcome, such as: being the only black student in our classes, hearing the N-word spoken by white students on a daily basis, lack of curriculum regarding black history, lack of black staff (2 teachers out of 96), etc. It seems apparent that our past experiences align with current black Mounds View students.

Due to Mounds View’s lack of action and history with unaddressed racism, current black Mounds View students have described an inability to seek support from the Mounds View community during this difficult time. Black students who have personally reached out to black alumni have expressed their distress as not only caused by George Floyd’s murder but also caused by the responses of white Mounds View students to his murder and countless other instances of anti-black racism and violence. Black students have shared experiences of hearing the N-word in classrooms, hallways, and lunchrooms. They have seen racial incidents and police brutality mocked by their white peers. They have seen these same peers share and comment anti-black, pro-police rhetoric on social media sites and/or treat their activism as a trend. It is important to note that these black students’ experiences of racism at Mounds View are not unique nor limited to the ones we have shared here.

You must understand how disheartening it is to hear the same sentiments expressed by current black Mounds View students. Many of us graduated from Mounds View exhausted from the racial trauma caused by racist incidents and microaggressions and the emotional labor of educating our white faculty and peers. However, we cannot be silent when black students are subjected to acts of racial injustice and feel unsupported by the administration. Performative commitments to diversity and inclusion will not solve the racial inequity that is so deeply engrained in this school district.

It is imperative that Mounds View supports its black students through this tragedy and condemn incidences of racism wherever they occur, including in surrounding areas as well as within our own school community. We would like to see the following actions taken by Mounds View’s administration:

  • Address incidents of police brutality and offer tangible resources to students of color (even when they are not on school grounds). This should also include resources for black mental health and racial trauma support
  • Hold all students accountable for racist speech and actions in the classroom and on social media, and make these consequences transparent
  • Recruit, hire and retain teachers of color so that students of color have a more adequate support system
  • Incorporate curriculum that empowers black culture and critically engages with American history, anti-black racism, and whiteness as a racist ideology
  • Provide more opportunities to discuss and educate students about activism, white privilege, implicit bias, allyship, and taking up space

Within the Mounds View school district, our neighborhoods and communities are becoming more diverse. However, Mounds View itself has not changed and is not equipped to support students from non-white backgrounds. Thus, we must see these changes become a reality.

In an attempt to create space for black students, we are creating a GroupMe chat so that we can all express and process our grief in a community of black people. Also, we would like to make it known that students are absolutely welcome to continue to reach out to black alumni. We would love to support you.

While the larger Twin Cities community is grieving the loss of George Floyd, please remember that Mounds View Administration must be held accountable to its black students and acknowledge the racial trauma they carry at Mounds View and outside of its walls.

In strength and solidarity,

Bri Sislo-Schutta

Class of 2018

Kira Bunkholt

Class of 2017

Sam Mesfin

Class of 2018

Michael Fahim

Class of 2018

Feyi Adewoye

Class of 2016

Elda Mesfin

Class of 2016

Charlie Etuko

Class of 2017

Colin Jones

Class of 2018

Hanifa Oketch

Class of 2017

Joseph Cole

Class of 2019

Kitone Johnson

Class of 2016

Fil Gilbert

Class of 2018

Yaquub Mohamed

Class of 2017

Emmanuel Mongare

Class of 2019

Nehemiah Gaim

Class of 2019

Greg Amusu

Class of 2015

Marya Schuelke

Class of 2018

Gaedy Bindoula

Class of 2016

Anthony Hernandez

Class of 2019

Nton Ollor

Class of 2015

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