Racism in Minnetonka



Maira Khurana, Copy Editor

Since George Floyd was murdered by police officer Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020, many Americans have finally had to reckon with the systemic oppression that they may have turned a blind eye to for centuries. In practically every city across the country, protestors have shown that injustice is not only found in former confederate states or small rural towns, but everywhere. So is it here? Many students might say no, as Minnetonka has always valued equity and safety for all students. Conversely, however, many students of color have come forth to speak about the racism that they have faced in our schools. It is time that we educate ourselves about the issues in our community.

What racism are students facing? While no students offered to comment on personal experience, a document titled ‘Negative Racial Comments at Minnetonka Schools’ has been shared throughout the student body, and on it students anonymously describe racial injustices that they have witnessed or experienced. There are almost one hundred incidents listed on the document. 

Multiple students describe incidents like a teacher “threaten[ing] to make [Somali students] wait outside in freezing temperatures” and “a nurse [accusing] Somali students of being loud even though [they] weren’t.” 

Students also mention hearing or being on the receiving end of students and even teachers using the n-word, often with a hard r. One student claimed that their “fifth grade teacher openly said the n-word with a hard r in class.”

The issue is not only overt racism, but unintentional and intentional biases. Many students recount other students and teachers being ignorant about their cultures and ethnicities or mistaking students of the same ethnicity for each other. 

One student details their math teacher consistently confusing them with another Asian student before confessing that “sometimes people like you just sound really similar.”

Students have been asked how they learned English, despite clearly stating that it is their first language.

 An Asian student wrote that they were accused of having a fake ID during a test because of their “white sounding name,” and “another teacher had to verify that it was indeed [them] because [the proctor] didn’t believe [them].” 

Multiple students have been expected to be knowledgeable about everything related to their ethnicity and required to speak to it in class. With all of these issues coming to light, it became very clear that something needs to be done, but what?

Over the summer, a few anti-racist student groups were formed, the most prominent of which being the Minnetonka Coalition for Equitable Education (MCEE). The MCEE is a student-led organization of about twenty-eight alumni and current students. The main goal of the MCEE is to implement eleven imperatives into the Minnetonka School District. Those eleven imperatives are as follows: an anti-racism statement to the community, diversity training for staff, recruitment of BIPOC teachers, an anti-hate speech dress code, anti-racist curriculum, incident reporting, restorative justice, an open enrollment busing policy, civil rights protections for teachers, proper implementation of Minnesota statute 124D.861, and democratic representation of community voices. 

According to Jin Bang, ‘22, “about half of these imperatives have been adopted to the School Board’s yearly goals.”

This occurred on August 6th, when the Minnetonka School Board approved a multi-year endeavor to “provide a school environment where all students feel safe, welcome, supported and accepted.”

Bang went on to describe some short term goals of the MCEE. 

She said that “there was a Minnetonka for Black Lives march yesterday, and MCEE members volunteered along with other organizations and student groups.” 

Bang was introduced to the MCEE by a parent of a fellow student, and was one of the first few Minnetonka students to join. She believes that “change starts from small steps” and that it’s important to work together to make Minnetonka a better place for everyone.”

“Everyone deserves to feel safe and accepted in their school,” Bang said. 

It is the responsibility of every member of a community to make sure it remains welcoming to all. Students are leading the charge to change Minnetonka for the better, but there is still much to be addressed. Whether it be calling out other students displaying racism or joining a student group like the MCEE, it is important that all students come together to deal with racism, overt or not. If you wish to join or follow the MCEE, their Instagram is @equitablemtka.