Racist Post Shames DixonFeb 09, 2023 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Debra Dingman
A woman speaks about her child being pictured in a racist post and earlier when a teacher ignored him when he reported being called a racist name in class.
DIXON, CA (MPG) - “Racism and hate have no place here,” were the words on one of several posters held up by John Knight Middle School students last Friday just hours before a press conference at the Dixon Unified School District in response to a racist social media post made by a student.
It’s rare that camera crews from a half dozen television stations show up in Dixon at all, but it would have been wonderful had they been here to cover a celebration of Black History Month on Wednesday. Unfortunately, they never had the chance as that day about noon, an Instagram post began to spread faster than a virus showing a collage of at least 23 students described as black or biracial and included JKMS’s first black principal, Kamilah O’Connor. Its caption read, “Happy black history month (sic) to all of the m***eys.”
A parent came into the District Office about 4 p.m. showing the post and an investigation immediately ensued.
“The post took a lot of coordination and was atypical of middle schoolers,” said Dixon Unified School Superintendent Brian Dolan who issued a notice to all by 6:15 p.m. about a press conference at 8 p.m. after attempts to contact all the victims had been made and there had been a chance to talk with students and their parents. They were also able to identify the suspect, a seventh-grade boy.
“There was outrage, anger, disgust, weeping, and lots of questions and concerns,” Dolan said.
The second press conference on Friday afternoon was more for the media who had run news stories on the local channels the previous two days and to ensure the public that there was “immediate action” and “complete transparency” on the issue, he said.
“The victims of the post are sixth, seventh, and eighth-graders taken maybe even a few weeks ago and it appeared the students did not know why the picture was being taken,” he said. In others, some had people cropped out, or they were still trying to identify them.
Dolan was subdued and said that in his 35 years in public education with 12 of those as Superintendent, “this was the most disgusting, disturbing, really hateful thing” he’d ever seen. He said he took full responsibility and because it happened at the school and during school hours, the District’s next step was applying the education code and reviewing other steps in regards to what’s effective. The student had history with staff, and currently, he was not being allowed to attend school while disciplinary steps were determined. They will partner with Solano County staff who completed equity work last year.
“I believe we need outside help. I am not the man – as an older white man, I am not the right person to be in front of this work,” Dolan said, adding that there is a “cultural shift in the schools” and that Dixon doesn’t have the capacity to “do this on our own.”
Several black families were in the audience and made statements or asked questions.
“This is an ongoing name-calling and bullying and nothing will be done about it after the cameras go away,” said Marty Levino. “America was not built by one group of people. It was all of us. Something concrete has to be done.” Another parent said that although she appreciated what the administration was doing, “this is just the tip of the iceberg.”
“My son was called a monkey on Monday and the teacher didn’t do anything,” she said. “She ignored the situation.” Other black parents expressed their frustration about moving to Dixon and discovering racism.
“I know this starts at home,” said one man. “I’ve lived in the Bay Area and you don’t see color. I’m disgusted here. This is an everybody factor. What happens going forward is what counts.” Another man said, “I’m a black father. I don’t get no breaks. I’m black every day.”
Dolan promised the Governing Board “would not let this issue die” and that he’d have a full report on February 16, the next School Board Meeting.