Berkeley High School yearbooks recalled for ‘offensive and racist’ text

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Update 6/11/15: This article has been updated to reflect an email signed by students in Berkeley High’s Academy of Medicine and Public Service. 

Berkeley High School administrators have recalled the school’s yearbook after reports of inappropriate language on one of its pages, according to an email announcement sent by the school’s principal the evening of June 3.

The text describes Berkeley High’s Academy of Medicine and Public Service, or AMPS — a college preparatory program — as “making our future doctors, dentists, nurses, physicians, fire chiefs and trash collators of tomorrow.” A photo of the offending page was tweeted by the school’s Black Student Union’s Twitter account June 3.

In the email announcement, Berkeley High principal Kristin Glenchur called the phrase “offensive and racist” and said yearbook distribution will be halted until the language is removed. Corrected versions of the yearbook will be distributed to AMPS seniors for free.

“What occurred does not just affect the AMPS community, but has had a profound and hurtful impact on all of us,” Glenchur said in the email.

An email announcement signed by several AMPS students was sent Monday to clarify the “importance and severity” of the yearbook comment. According to the email, AMPS students have previously been the target of stereotyping. Although formerly called the Community Partnership Academy, the group was referred to as the Colored People Academy by some students.

“It is very saddening that we will spend our lives proving our worth, but it’s an even harder blow that we must prove ourselves in the institution that is supposed to protect us,” the email said. “People who cannot relate must come to the realization that racism and classism are large factors that exist on Berkeley High’s campus.”

The school’s yearbook staff, according to the June 3 email, has taken collective responsibility for not catching the error and is preparing an apology.

 

G. Haley Massara is a news editor. Contact them at [email protected] and follow them on Twitter @BylineGraph.