There are people at my school who hate me,
and I have probably never met them.
by Josh Bob: October 21, 1996
My name is Joshua Bob, and I am a senior at Peabody Veterans’ Memorial High School. Over the past five days, there has been a rash of hateful scrawlings all over the school, including such words as “nigger” and “kkk,” as well as a swastika carved into a door. I am the president of a local Jewish youth group (USY), and as such am very concerned about the lacksidasical attitude of the school towards these events. I would appreciate it if you would print the following article somewhere in the newspaper, either on Tuesday, 10/22, or Wednesday, 10/23. Please reply to inform me of whether or not it will be printed, as well as where and when.
Thank you very much,
Joshua S. Bob
Any reactions appreciated… More appreciated, however, would be advice on what to do, as well as some help in getting an educational program going from my high school, as well as the lower Peabody (MASS) schools.
- There are people at my school who hate me, and I have probably never met them.
Before I began my Freshman year at Peabody Veterans’ Memorial High School, I imagined it as an incredible place. Having attended a private school with a graduating class of 27, this high school of almost two thousand students seemed a veritable haven, a place to find my own niche, to make my own friends. I sought to escape the taunts of myclassmates. I thought I would be able to accomplish this at Peabody High.
The events of the past five days have proven me wrong. Over this time span, graffiti has been found in numerous places around the high school. Scrawlings such as “nigger” and “KKK” were strategically placed in stairwells as to reach the largest population of students, and a swastika was carved on a wooden door. This was Thursday, and only a handful of people knew about it.
One would make the supposition that the news would spread like wildfire, and by Friday afternoon the administration would be flooded with calls from angry and scared parents. This, however, is not what occurred. The truth is that hardly anyone knew. The words were painted over within an hour of their being discovered, and neither students nor faculty were informed of these goings on.
In fact, when I began speaking to people about the situation on Monday morning, I found, to my dismay, that fewer than five people knew about this, of the over fifty with whom I spoke. I actually ended up informing nearly ten faculty members of the graffiti, as well as two guidance counsellors. In other words, the administration wanted as few people to know about it as possible.
In a school where Jewish students shrug off pennies thrown in their direction as a common occurance, where two students who taunted their Jewish peers with cries of “Dirty Kike” and “Jew Bastard” are punished with a simple call to their home, one might think that this would cause very little uproar in the administration. And one would be correct in assuming that, because, even when more scrawlings of “KKK” and more swastikas were discovered, these marks were simply photographed and then immmediately covered with fresh paint.
Isn’t this condoning these acts of hatred? The message the principal seems to be sending is, “Go ahead, do what you want, we’ll just paint over it.” There has been no announcement to inform the students of their bigoted classmates. There has been no assembly to even censure the perpetrators of this heinous crime. In a town with a strong Jewish community, no authorities, Jewish or otherwise, have been informed of these happenings through official school channels.
As a student at Peabody High School, I object to the desecration of my school’s walls. As a human being, I object to the seemingly blind hatred and prejudice shown by this student or group of students. And as the president of my town’s chapter of the United Synagogue Youth, a Jewish youth organization, I object to the lack of action shown by the school in disseminating the news and stopping the perpetrators. Today, they scrawl hateful words on the walls; tomorrow, will they be beating a student, or perhaps worse?
In the words of a caucasian, Catholic friend of mine, “It makes me so sick to think that in my own school, behavior like that goes on. Whoever’sdoing that should be stopped.”