Op-ed: A student responds to the AMPS yearbook incident

I am responding to the recent hateful comment in the Berkeley High School yearbook directed at the Academy of Medicine and Public Service (AMPS) small school.

My overall reaction was pure disgust.

Someone on the yearbook committee took the time out of their day to perpetuate racial discrimination against our small school. This, after a long year of high emotions from the recent attention to the many killings and injustices done to people of color and the weight of discrimination we feel every day.

The AMPS senior class had a serious meeting with members of the yearbook committee and, although many apologies were brought to the table, only one seemed genuine, sadly from another person of color.

The man who was in charge [faculty advisor Gabriel Berent] said he reviewed our page before it went to print and the only thing changed afterwards was a word to “trash collaters.” However, our AMPS page had more errors than any other page — as if they were trying to deem us as illiterate.

There were barely any pictures of our class in the entire book, and our page looked as though it was barely worked on. To make matters worse, the administration let this issue slide under the rug like so many others, until students took matters into their own hands.

Even then, our message did not get across because many students at BHS did not even know about the situation.

And we still don’t know who did it.

My community is very hurt, and all we got was an extra class photo, a sticker over the words that, while holding a thoughtful message, looked atrocious and felt like a slap in the face.

It showed the lack of value that we at AMPS feel the school gives us. The pain from the incident hurts more than I can put in words, because this racially driven motive was an attack on our small school.

Our small school is judged solely on the color of our skin, because students who don’t take our classes, who don’t know our teachers or share our environment, judge us and identify us as the “lazy school for colored people.”

Many small schools are judged and put down while the big schools that are, of course, predominately white and have a few more resources (Academic Choice and Berkeley International High School) get great recognition. Some small schools may have a different style of learning, but everyone at BHS is on the same path to success.

Small-school discrimination, I feel, will always be racially motivated because of the lack of diversity big schools have. I believe this is due to the BHS lottery system that is inefficient and seemingly rigged. Furthermore, these prejudices stop students from coming to our small school and discredit the hard work that AMPS gives back to the community and to our school.

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Tyler Traylor is a 2015 graduate of the AMPS small school at Berkeley High School. She loves writing, poetry, healthy living, and advocating for social justice.