High school pulls newspaper over racist opinion piece

Times Staff Writer

Carson High School pulled this month’s school newspaper because of an anonymous article that likened rowdy black students at a nearby Taco Bell to “a pack of monkeys.”

The article, titled “Looks like the circus is in town,” was on the editorial page of the issue distributed Tuesday, school officials said.

The piece describes raucous and impolite behavior: “The one thing that I hate more than anything is standing in that line with dumb-ass people paying and acting a fool around me.”

The writer says most of the crowd is black and variously describes the students as stupid, rude, immature and insensitive, summing up: “When I go to Taco Bell, I want to go to a restaurant, NOT A ZOO! Stop acting like animals ... behave and clean up after yourself.”


The newspaper’s student editor, Alex De Vera, and faculty advisor Gregory Vieira said they were in full agreement with the principal’s decision to pull the paper. They said the article escaped their normal vetting because the page was late and only two people saw the piece in advance -- its writer and the page editor.

“The person who put the page together said he didn’t look at it closely,” Vieira said. “I didn’t look at it either. I’d read everything else in the paper but that page. It was completely surprising.”

Vieira said he considered handing out scissors so the student journalists could cut out the offending article, but the bundles already were out the door.

Vieira alerted Principal Kenneth Keener, who apologized over the public address system and directed teachers to collect and return the newspapers. Some copies eluded the dragnet.


“I’ve always been proud of our student newspaper,” Keener said, recounting his announcement, “and this article wasn’t up to the standards we normally put out.”

Keener also sent a letter home: “The article included insensitive and racially derogatory comments, was inflammatory and heightened tensions on campus,” Keener wrote. “We are one of the most diverse, multicultural campuses in Southern California. Our strength is our diversity.”

The school of 3,450 students is 44.3% Latino, 23.1% Filipino, 21.5% African American and 11.1% other ethnicities.

Just in case of any potential problems, Keener requested extra security from the school district but said the incident provoked only classroom discussions and some calls from parents.


The article appeared under the column title “Rambling Rogue,” which is written anonymously each month by one of the paper’s top editors.

The school is not releasing the name of the author, nor would Keener discuss possible disciplinary actions.

Keener said he hoped to reprint the issue, minus the offending article.