In June teenage sisters Nene and Ekene Okolo started an Instagram account called Black in PUSD, where they invited Poway Unified students and alumni of color to share what it was like for them at school.
They received 1,200 anonymous submissions, most describing racist incidents Black, Latino and Asian students had endured, including racial slurs and assumptions based on stereotypes.
The Black in PUSD account helped spur an anti-racism movement in Poway Unified, which has acknowledged that racial slurs and harassment are a problem on its campuses.
Poway, a district in which 2 percent of students are Black, is one of several districts in San Diego County trying to address racism in its schools. This reckoning is fueled largely by the Black Lives Matter resurgence this summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody.
The district is working with Nene, Ekene, leaders of the schools’ Black Student Unions and others to pursue several reforms designed to halt racism that officials say has grown on its campuses in recent years.
Poway Associate Superintendent Carol Osborne said it was heartbreaking to read the stories on the Black in PUSD account.
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