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‘Token Black Kid’ Urges Comal ISD to Confront Racism at Smithson Valley High School

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‘Token Black Kid’ Urges Comal ISD to Confront Racism at Smithson Valley High School

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Caleb Mosley graduated from Smithson Valley High School this year and is pursuing a double major in Theatre and Human Rights at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Diversity isn’t on the agenda, but at least a dozen Comal ISD parents plan to speak out about racism during public comments at the September board of trustees meeting 6 p.m. Thursday in the administration building, 1404 IH-35 North New Braunfels.

Parents say they weren’t satisfied with an email Supt. Andrew Kim sent last week, thanking the community for raising awareness about race and equity issues after board of trustees President David Drastata referred to COVID-19 as the ‘China virus’ in an Aug. 17 email to Canyon High School Athletic Booster Club parents.

Drastata’s email sparked controversy on social media and was widely reported by newspapers and TV stations.

Kim said he cannot change peoples’ opinions or behaviors but will work to create safe learning environments where students and staff are treated equally.

“To that end, we are creating an advisory on diversity,” he said. “Please know that I and our Board of Trustees are committed to this work.”

Racism Is Rampant at Smithson Valley High School

It is unclear whether anyone on the board plans to talk about diversity at Thursday’s meeting, but former Smithson Valley High School student Caleb Mosley, a 2020 graduate who played varsity basketball and participated in theater, said in a series of Tweets last month that somebody should.

Posting as @calebmosleyy on Aug. 4, he said administrators need to do something about the way people of color are treated at Smithson Valley High School. These are his comments on Twitter:

“I’ve been hesitant to speak on this because of how well my high-school administration treated me personally, but I feel the need to speak out on this since racism is a topic that was and still is ignored at Smithson Valley HS: a thread.

“Before I continue, I want to start by saying that this thread is not to call out or hate on the school, my goal is to hopefully start a conversation that I have seen avoided all 8 years of me being in Comal ISD, but more specifically my four years at Smithson Valley HS.

“I will also say that I didn’t have a terrible experience at the school, I took what I had along with the utmost respect and used it to my advantage to get on the good side, but that doesn’t disqualify me from speaking on the subject.

“Anyhow, I joined many clubs, I was in theatre, I played basketball, every time I walked past admin I would put on my biggest smile and say hello, I had the most school spirit, and with all of that I gained respect from teachers, administrators, etc.

The ‘token black kid’

“I became, what many people called me, the ‘token black kid.’ I was on the front of the website along with some other students, I was on posters, admin began speaking to me first, and I got in return, the utmost respect from all the faculty on campus — and that’s the issue.

“To be blunt, when a white student walks onto campus, they already have the utmost respect from faculty. They don’t have to work for it, they don’t have to prove themselves worthy, and they don’t have to change to meet expectations. Overall they don’t have to WORK for respect.

“On the other hand, most students of color had to be in clubs that benefited the school while also maintaining a high GPA and staying out of any trouble to have respect from everyone, including faculty.

“The biggest difference between white students and students of color at SVHS is the fact that white students lost respect depending on their behavior, whereas students of color had to work for their respect in the first place.”
–Caleb Mosley

“The biggest difference between white students and students of color at SVHS is the fact that white students lost respect depending on their behavior, whereas students of color had to work for their respect in the first place.

“I worked and worked and worked until I knew I had respect from everyone because that’s just who I am, but some of my peers, that were also of color, didn’t care as much as I did, which is reasonable because no one should have to work that hard to gain respect in the first place.

“So as expected, a lot of my classmates didn’t get the same respect as I did. Of course, we could deny it, but I got away with so much more than my BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color) classmates due to me basically kissing up.

“For example, in the year of 2019-2020, Comal ISD implemented the ID policy, stating that every student must wear a school ID on a lanyard everywhere on the campus.

“However, on the same day, in the same hour, with the same admin, 2 of my friends were automatically disciplined for not wearing their ID’s, but when I passed the same administrator, they asked where my ID was, I told them I left it in my car, and they allowed me to get it.

“This seems very minimal, but this was how it always was. I was constantly loved, prioritized, respected, and even volunteered to do things to represent the school, but to keep it specific, most of my Black classmates were never included or asked.

Disciplined

“Now, even though I was the ‘token black kid,’ I want to talk about the many things that white students got away with the Black students (including me) would be disciplined for.

“First, the infamous parking lot is also known as ‘Africa’ (due to the distance away from the building). Mostly occupied by juniors and some seniors, the parking lot became a hangout spot in the mornings for most of the boys with their big trucks and loud music, which is fine.

“But can we discuss the issue of double parking, ‘burnouts,’ constant honking and even RACING? If there was no supervision out there I would understand, but I have personally seen the campus sheriffs sit outside the parking lot watching students race, double park —

“and cause chaos, but they chose to ignore it. I even saw an officer playing cornhole behind a double-parked truck playing Lil Uzi Vert at max volume, but I had a friend that was told to turn their music down because it was ‘provocative’ by the same officer.

“Or the fact that white students can continuously play ‘the penis game’ where they see who yells ‘penis’ the loudest and they get a slap on the wrist, but one time a black student joins the game with a group of white students, they get ISS (in-school suspension). (not saying it’s right, you get it)

“Now, the disrespect that goes on in the classroom from white students such as yelling, disrespecting teachers, disrespecting subs, etc. is always just another slap on the wrist. But when a student of color does so much as talk to a friend or eats, that’s where they draw the line.

Ignorance of BLATANT racism

“Now, on the other hand, let’s talk about the continuous ignorance of BLATANT racism at SV and how administration seems not to see it as an issue.

“Starting before I even entered high school, I heard about all the racism at the school through my sister. I remember her coming home frustrated about her and her friends getting called racial slurs, and when they reported it, there were never consequences.

“I remember my freshman year, a video surfaced of a girl saying something on the lines of ‘if they can call us crackers, then we can call them n*ggers,’ and Black students put it in the hands of admin, but nothing was ever done and the admin swept it under the rug.

“Therefore, out of anger and frustration, a Black student set a time and a place to fight the racist student, and that’s when the admin got involved, threatened to punish the Black student, victimized the racist student, and STILL ignored the reason behind their anger.

“Next is a situation where a white student continuously said the n-word and was reported to the office. However, the admin returned with the student saying that they didn’t mean it in an ‘offensive way,’ even though cussing, in general, is supposedly 3 days of ISS I believe.

“Next, a student posted a photo of a black mask with the caption ‘i’m a n*gger,’ and when we sent it to admin and also this person’s coach, me, along with other students and athletes were told to ‘leave it alone.’ Then, of course, it was only a slap on the wrist.

Where Is Zero-Tolerance?

“Now let’s discuss the doctored photo that went viral of players on the JV football team posing with the caption ‘f**k them n*ggers’ targeted toward Judson HS.

“Yes, it was proven to be fake, but can we discuss the media outspread and how every school, every media outlet, and even majority of the students at SV believed it to be true? What does this say about SVHS?

“I bring this up because there’s this stigma that SVHS is a racist school. Point. Blank. Period. And from within the school, there have been tons of complaints on the topic of racism, but it is literally never handled. When will SV become a zero-tolerance for racism school?

“It was to a point where I hated the question ‘what school do you go to’ because I knew the reaction I would get, due to me being a Black student going to a school known for being racist.

“Furthermore, students of color are more than just athletes that you favor during games because we are winning for you. We are more than just faces you slap on the website to represent ‘diversity.’

“We’re valuable when we don’t have high GPA’s, we’re valuable when we don’t have the accent that you want us to have, we’re valuable when our hair doesn’t look the way you want it to, we’re valuable when we aren’t scoring touchdowns, baskets or breaking records on the track.” –Caleb Mosley

“We’re valuable when we don’t have high GPA’s, we’re valuable when we don’t have the accent that you want us to have, we’re valuable when our hair doesn’t look the way you want it to, we’re valuable when we aren’t scoring touchdowns, baskets or breaking records on the track.

“We’re valuable when we’re not a part of every club. And we’re valuable when we’re not doing everything in our power to be accepted by you.

“Again, this is not out of hate or spite toward the school, I just no longer want the conversation to be avoided any longer for the future and current students of color at SV and in Comal ISD.

Racist Reputation

“This racist reputation will not be fixed if the school/district continues to ignore the conversation that has been avoided since the beginning. If SVHS continues to tolerate racism, they will never use that reputation. And if they truly care, they’ll have the conversation.

“I write this on behalf of all of my classmates of color that were mistreated on the campus. I write this on behalf of all the students who feared to speak about it (including me). And I write this on behalf of all of the future and current students of color at the school.

“Just because I was protected by being tokenized and known throughout the school does not mean I cannot speak on the racist reputation of the school and on behalf of the students who were affected.

“I wish I had the bravery to speak up more before I graduated, but I didn’t. There’s no other excuse. But now I’m speaking because I truly feel ashamed that I allowed myself to actively speak on racism but ignore the issue in my school because I, personally, was on ‘the good side.’

“I will forever be thankful for SVHS because that’s where I found what I loved and enjoyed every second of it, but it hurts to say that many other students of color can’t say the same, and I ignored it.”

Caleb Mosley is now pursuing a double major in Theatre and Human Rights at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

(Editor’s Note: Drastata is president of the Canyon High School Athletic Boosters Club, not the Canyon High School Band Boosters Club, as originally reported. Booster club president Natascha Reynoso said the band booster organization is inclusive and supportive of all students, parents, faculty and community members regardless of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. MyCanyonLake.com apologizes for the error.)

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4 Comments

  1. Reynaldo Martinez September 10, 2020

    Well folks there you have it,
    Racism in Comal County is nothing new it is indentured in the local population which is predominantly Republican conservative retirees who grew up with old School Plantation mentality, I have experienced it firsthand and the best thing I like about Comal County that I like the best is the site of it in my rearview mirror.
    And I think all the county should have all the Water Systems checked for lead levels and mercury levels because of the questionable Water Supplies throughout Comal County containing fluoride and Mercury on top of the coronavirus and seems like the perfect storm for angry scared people looking for someone or something to blame because they don’t have a clue what to do so they in turn take out their frustrations on the people who are the least able to fight back because that’s the type of people that comprise the corporated and Incorporated areas of Comal County they’re not all bad at least 10% of them aren’t all bad.
    If I sound a little bitter take it with a grain of salt and sprinkle it over your thoughts look in the mirror and picture yourself black brown yellow, and when you go to church on Sundays remember what a good Christian is supposed to be and live it if you’re capable of it because now is the time when character is forged we’re on the precipice of change unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to be for the better anytime soon everyone will just Clan up that’s why they call it the KKK. And remember this is America if you don’t like where you’re living do what I did and move out and don’t look back there is greener grass on God’s Little acre and it’s definitely not in Comal County.

    Reply
  2. Annita Shamsid-Deen September 10, 2020

    Well said and thank you for your bravery in speaking out. Unfortunately this is so true throughout Comal ISD from elementary up!

    Reply
  3. Natacha Reynoso September 10, 2020

    Mr Drastrata’s letter was to the athletic booster parents, NOT the band booster parents. The Canyon Band Booster organization is inclusive of ALL students, parents, faculty and community members no matter their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation. Please correct your story.

    Reply
    1. Stephanie Johnson September 10, 2020

      Thank you for the catch. We have corrected the error and added a note about band boosters at the bottom of the article

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