CHICAGO, IL – Marist High School students are accused of racism after a viral video shows a large group kneeling during the homecoming dance on Saturday when the DJ played a Mexican line dance song – “Payaso del Rodeo”.
The video, recorded by junior Elizabeth Pacheco, 16, of Oak Forest, now has over 144,000 views on Instagram alone. Pacheco said she and a friend were enjoying the dance until about 8 p.m. when the incident happened.
“People immediately started booing and kneeling, and everyone knows from the national anthem that kneeling means protesting — they were against the song,” Pacheco told Patch on Monday. The junior said the situation only got worse from there, adding that students taking part in the line dancing were disrupted by protesters.
“They started saying really disrespectful things about Mexicans and that’s when I started recording,” Pacheco said.
Pacheco, at that time, did not know how to react otherwise. She said when she returned home she could not believe what had happened, adding that no member of staff had intervened to stop the pupils from making racist remarks.
“That’s what upset me so much, they were right next to the DJ when it happened, but they didn’t do anything,” Pacheco said. “I felt really belittled, and as a minority, we’re only 16% in our school. I felt really disrespected.”
The high school addressed the incident in a statement Monday, saying it was looking into the matter.
“Marist’s mission is to make Jesus known and loved. We respect and promote diversity, equity and inclusion for all and want every student to succeed by feeling valued, seen and connected,” the school said. in a press release.
The statement continued: “As a school, we promote cultural diversity and provide professional development on cultural competence to staff and students. Marist High School is fully investigating the events and will address them as appropriate.”
Pacheco said the statements made by the school preached its core values, but it was not the first time a racial incident had occurred – “they talk, but they don’t want to walk”, he said. she adds.
The incident, which happened during National Hispanic Heritage Month, led students to protest at the school on Monday, according to Pacheco. The junior said her goal was not to bring down the school, but that she didn’t want it to be ‘just another incident that happened at Marist’.
“I feel like they’re using us as a sort of token or image to mark their diversity by putting up banners and asking for photos with the family during Hispanic Heritage Month. But that’s not the first time,” Pacheco said. “Racism happens in our school, and I think it’s really important for the school to educate the students and there should be consequences and excuses other than discipline.
“I think they have to educate them and make them change their ways and open their hearts to different cultures, to be respectful like we are to theirs. They are future doctors, teachers and lawyers – if they act that way, I think it’s time for them to change.”