Racial Inequality Within the ICCSD

Liberty students stage a protest against racial discrimination within the school district.

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Rosie Terry

Students gather in the auditorium to hear Shay Roberts and Plameldy Matiyabo speak.

Iowa City Liberty Students organized a protest on Monday, November 15th, in response to recent racial issues that have arisen within the ICCSD. Both students and staff gathered in the auditorium during all three lunch periods to show their support for minorities in and outside of Liberty High school. Students shared stories of racial discrimination by fellow students and teachers to their peers. The protest was organized by seniors Shay Roberts and Plameldy Matiyabo. 

Even though the incident that sparked protests throughout ICCSD didn’t occur at Liberty, Matiyabo explains how it is still a prominent issue within the Liberty community.

“I thought that we should all come together and talk about it because it wasn’t really acknowledged here.” says Matiyabo. 

She goes on to say how even though these instances may not be recorded, that doesn’t mean that they didn’t happen. They should be taken with the same seriousness as if they were recorded. Students had the opportunity to share their own experiences and stories about racial issues including micro-aggression, prejudice within sports, and specific instances within Liberty.

“It’s not just using racial slurs, it’s how you interact with students of a different race.” Explains Roberts.  She states that there are “many ways students can support minorities in Liberty.” with the most useful being listening. 

Roberts talks about how listening to others’ stories can make others’ experiences feel valid. Roberts also encourages students to speak up if they see something happening. She says that many occurrences of racial discrimination within Liberty are micro-aggressions, such as a sly remark or asking to touch a person of colors hair. 

“Some [people] may not even realize they are doing it.” Roberts says. She urges students to be self-aware of their actions. 

Liberty students who have experienced or witnessed racial discrimination can contact their guidance counselors Troy Bergmann (last names A-F), Jenni Naughton (G-M), Mayra Hoskyn (N-S & ELL), and Shelby Bryce (T-Z). Other resources students can use are available on the ICCSD web-page under the “Equity and Bullying” page.