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Mar-13-2012 17:40printcomments

Lake Oswego High: Racist Tweets are Only Tip of the Iceberg

A racially insensitive, antagonizing environment has been the worst kept secret for generations.

Courtesy: issues.cc

(PORTLAND The Skanner) - I wish I could say I was surprised to read that three football players from my Alma Mater Lake Oswego High School (LOHS) were suspended for targeting a former Black teammate with racist tweets, but I know better.

Bruce Poinsette

I was watching from the bench on the infamous night when our crowd broke out into chants of "You can't read," and "Hooked on phonics," to taunt a Black Lincoln basketball player. It was an embarrassing time to say I represented LOHS and yet it provided a glimpse into the daily problematic behavior that is persistent throughout the school.

As a Black student who went through the Lake Oswego (LO) school system, I've seen a culture of both systemic and overt racism that isolates students of color, especially Black.

The town has the nickname "Lake No Negro" (or as one of the suspended football players put it, "Lake NoN****r") for a reason. According to Census Data, LO has a Black population of 0.7 percent.

I've lived in LO all my life, written for the town newspaper, played in high school band and was on LOHS's only state championship basketball team, yet I still catch people pointing and staring at me like a zoo animal when I walk through town.

When I was in school I stood out like sore thumb and was reminded of it all the time.

In kindergarten, a Saudi student named Muhammad and I, the only two children of color in the class, were separated from the rest of the students and told we could play with blocks while the teacher taught the others how to read. My mother still gets upset when she remembers the class Reading Night and how I struggled in front of all my classmates and their parents. My kindergarten teacher would go on to suggest that I be held back, which my parents had to fight.

This was just one of many instances where teachers had lower expectations of me than my white peers. In sixth grade I had to get 100 percents on every Wordly Wise test for five straight weeks to prove I deserved to be in an advanced group and was proficient enough in a textbook I had completed three years earlier at another school. I was told by a counselor that I "didn't look like a TAG student," when I applied for the Talented and Gifted (TAG) program in seventh grade.

During high school basketball season, coaches didn't seem to care when other Black players were late or didn't attend classes, as long as they were eligible to play. As a junior I remember asking a spring league basketball coach to excuse me from a game (other players missed games for AAU and spring football practices with no punishment) so I could take my SATs. My minutes were drastically cut for the rest of the season.

Unfortunately, the attitudes of offending adults seemed to manifest in students' daily interactions. The hallways and playgrounds were a hotbed for racist jokes and other offenses.

I've lost count of the times I was told, "I didn't know you could talk like that," because I didn't sound like someone from a BET music video, which is sadly the only exposure many of my white peers had to Black people.

Jokes that I only got into my advanced classes because of Affirmative Action were also a favorite of many students.

What's disturbing is that while some people were mean spirited, the vast majority really didn't understand they were being offensive. The idea of respecting culture was a joke, both literally and figuratively.

Meanwhile, any serious discussion of inequality by a minority was met with the accusation that "You must hate white people."

Five years removed from high school graduation, I would be naive to think this culture of racial ignorance and white privilege has somehow been eradicated. Statements by school officials and parents trying to frame the football players' twitter comments as an isolated incident are misleading.

A racially insensitive, antagonizing environment has been the worst kept secret for generations.

This is an opportunity to be honest and address the root of intolerance in LO, rather than launch another public relations campaign that pretends race is not an issue in "Lake No Negro."

Special thanks to The Skanner


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G February 23, 2013 8:44 pm (Pacific time)

Just moved to Oregon and was considering to move to LO because I heard the schools are good. Met with a realtor today who told me that in the parework required by LO government in the purchase of a house contains blatent racist/discriminaotry language, and that when confronted with this and the suggestion was made that it's long overdue to remove that highly offensive, in not illegal language, the LO government officials essentially told her to f#@k off. Incredible, and pathetic beyond belief.

Anonymous March 14, 2012 6:13 pm (Pacific time)

Tim I dare say very few people in Lake Oswego are racist, and you can claim they are racist as a fact, and I assure you this home to hundreds of high priced lawyers will be talking to you endlessly in a deposition format. So, go for it! Most live here to have a safe environment for their children. All white communities are essentially the same, even poor white communities. What happened to Bruce or the latest action at the HS no doubt have different versions. At any rate life goes on and what they say: "when in Rome..." Naturally blacks are a very tiny minority in the overall Oregon population, and even a smaller proportion in Lake Oswego. Compare and contrast how whites are treated in mostly black communities and it becomes obvious why we simply do not live well together. Tim as you know, you also live essentially in a mostly white location, so what do you think you know about Lake Oswego? Most are very successful people who have little time for rabble rousers and those who make false allegations. In time you will see more and more jury nullifications by white juries as you see by black juries in all black communities. You are aware of many black leaders calling for finding blacks held harmless by black juries via nullification when the victim is white (criminal or civil proceedings), right? It's been going on for a long time. Justice breaks down completely in black communities and where ever they move things simply deteriorate. Fact! We simply cannot live together in peace because of their high crime behavior (fact!), and I say that because of decades of evidence, not pie in the sky ruminations by idiot liberals who have zip in real world experience.

Tim King: You're a nameless nobody and you confirm everything I allege, and lawyers can't sue a reporter for stating that racism exists in a community, you must not have any information in your head regarding this subject, I find you laughable only.

Anonymous March 14, 2012 2:10 pm (Pacific time)

Bruce,  Many years ago, I learned of an episode in the life of a promising young black man that is relevant to things happening now. He had been educated at a good school, and went on to battle racists and win time and time again.  Go get em Bruce.

Anonymous March 14, 2012 1:58 pm (Pacific time)

Prior to 1965 Oregon had very low crime rates. During the 1940's blacks began moving here and the bigotry began, I know because I was part of it, my friends and I never gave the blacks a break, and today I continue my attacks in places like this, people say I'm not smart but I know better!

Scot Brown March 14, 2012 10:59 am (Pacific time)

A fuller analysis is called for: Bruce life isn't always fair, and Lake Oswego is hardly a place that is very violent compared to the nearby [urban] Portland public schools. I have heard what you said about getting treated badly by white students/teachers. That has also been documented to happen to white kids in minority-dominated schools. Of course in Portland you can compare and contrast the white kids with the black and hispanic kids in various academic/social/behavioral metrics, and you will see that across the country these metrics are all similar. Except in one thing, it is very rare that minority kids are preyed on violently by white kids compared to the opposite, though it does happen, but in comparison, no contest, and you know that Bruce, as do your parents and all black leaders. A number of years ago some close friends, far more liberal than myself, were heavily involved in creating programs to foster a better pedagogical structure for minority kids in the Portland Metropolitan vicinity. Two of their children were violently attacked on the transit system near the Portland Zoo. One of their kids is permanently brain damaged and will need care for the rest of their life. The attackers were black, and though their juvenile files were closed, they had an extensive history of assaulting white children several years younger. They were caught because they were bragging about these assaults on internet media. Kind of like all the flashmobs around the country. I urge you Bruce to tell your friends, people at the Skanner, that a build-up of anger is coming from whites, and these Lake Oswego kids sure know of the racial crimes going on out there (many have been victims of assaults by blacks while in Portland), as well as their parents. Just because the mainstream media is not reporting it, people know, and I predict there will be a very intense blowback that will not get turned off, even by martial law. Oh there are far left white liberals who try to play it down, what you see in Lake Oswego is a minor symptom of this building white anger. The current leadership in Washington DC have been making this country even more divisive, so expect some dark times ahead if they continue in leadership. Vote for character/leadership, not skin color Bruce. The latter is racist, it really is. Please note gun sales are at record highs and have been for several years, people are worried and are preparing for whatever? Note: The above comment is correct, but far left liberals always consider facts like this to be racist. They are the one's directly responsible for creating this divisivness by their actions. Society needs discipline and personal responsibility accounting. Good luck in your future Bruce, and remember there are many sides to the same story/situation.

Editor: I had to really look at this to determine if you are spinning humor or really trying to provoke what, with your comments about gun sales... a race war?  The crappy stuff LO people don't have the decency to teach their kids not to be bigots, they are white and believe their positions allow them to say whatever they want to others and they are ignorant, remember that there is no such thing as a high IQ racist.  Do I actually detect you trying to compare a couple of thugs to the actions of a race?    This is a simple review of racist comments at a sports game, there is nothing to defend, I'm sure most people in LO are OK but being a defender?  That seems rather pathetic don't you think?  Try approaching it differently for everyone's sake.

Alma March 14, 2012 9:47 am (Pacific time)

Bruce, thank you for this honest look at the racist attitudes in Oregon. Although I am white, I moved here from another state six years ago and am astonished at the racial overtones around the state. Although not all folks in this state are like this, many of them simply have never been taught that this behavior is wrong. Where I come from there would comments I hear frequently would not be tolerated. I commend you on your bravery in putting this out there.

Anonymous March 14, 2012 2:10 am (Pacific time)

Pu Hu, these bad white Americans, what racists. Maybe the African-American Community should start saying "I am an American" and don't push the subject that they are African. No matter what it's always about the color of the skin. But lets change the tone. What about the white American? They are getting discriminated all the time. Departments rather hire black disqualified people as qualified white people. Racist? Nope, I'm honest. I experience it all the time and I am more than qualified for certain jobs. Maybe I should send my resume to the President who will get me a job!?! Stop crying and whining, stand up for yourself and stop being such a baby.

Editor: With people like this in the ranks, it is no wonder the problems involving racism are so bad in Oregon.  This comment is not specifically worthy of a reply.

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