SALINAS, Calif. (KION) Parents and students are expressing outrage over what they're calling racist acts and images being shared on social media. This is all stemming from an incident involving a black baby doll at Salinas High School. Parents say some photos show staff involved in the racist controversy.
The videos and Instagram posts began circulating over the weekend depicting Salinas High School students posing with a Black baby doll they reportedly named "Shaniqua." The account has since been deactivated, but the incident has left many residents shocked. Some of the posts were taken at a football jamboree held at Salinas High on Friday night, with parents and staff in attendance.
One parent reached out to us, saying a photo of her son with the doll was seen on TikTok. But she says her son was only at Salinas High for Regional Occupation Program classes when a girl approached him with the doll.
"She had told him that it would be helping her out as a project. So he just wanted to help her out. It broke my heart because seeing my kid that way, and for someone to take advantage of his innocence not knowing him and to post that without his consent," the parent told KION.
She says she's now concerned how the pictures could affect her son's future. Parents we spoke to say students shouldn't be the only ones held accountable.
"In some of the videos, there’s faculty and teachers taking pictures and videos with the doll," said Charles Sanders, whose son goes to North Salinas High School but was at the jamboree Friday night. "The teacher was holding the doll on the goal post. So it’s infuriating. It’s a lack of teaching, the parents aren’t doing their job, the teachers aren’t doing their job."
Parents we spoke to say teaching students to be racially sensitive starts at home, but they believe the school district should do more to teach students about the history behind their actions.
Students we spoke to, though, say they don't think the incident should reflect on the entire school.
"I mean what they did, what the doll is symbolizing is a little bit of racism but I don’t feel like as a whole school we’re racist. In general like I feel like we’re pretty good with that situation," a Salinas High football player told KION.
A statement from Salinas Union High School District Superintendent Dan Burns reads in part: "We are contracting with a third party investigator to review all of the aspects of racism, hate and discrimination. We will continue to provide the resources and support to ensure that those that initiated, instigated or actively contributed to this incident are held accountable."
Burns also says disciplinary action has been taken against the student who initiated the incident and started the Instagram account.
The district's statement goes on to say, "...Many students, some from other schools, were asked to pose with the doll and were not aware that a racist Instagram account was created and connected to the doll. Many were misinformed and told that it was part of a class project."
We reached out to the Salinas High principal but she was unavailable for comment. We did learn that a meeting with the principal and the NAACP was scheduled for Monday behind closed doors.
A statement from the NAACP Monterey County branch can be read here.
The entire statement from SUHSD can be read below.