In Houston, Texas, students received offensive superlative awards at Lance Cpl. Anthony Aguirre Junior High School.
Lizbeth Villanueva was given the “Most Likely to Become A Terrorist” award and Sydney Caesar was given the “Most Likely to Blend In With White People” award at a mock awards ceremony for their advanced learning classes.
That’s right. These awards were typed up and a group of teachers laughed as the awards were presented to middle school students. Although there is no indication as to whether or not the school administration was aware of the awards prior to the event, the Building Principal released a statement regarding the incident:
“Aguirre Administration would like to first of all apologize for the insensitive and offensive fake mock award that were given to students…As principal, I want to assure all students, parents and community members that these ward statement and ideals are NOT representative of the Aguirre Vision, Mission, and educational goals for its students.”
What’s worse is the fact that there were other teachers and faculty that were aware of this beforehand and allowed it to unfold at the expense of these students, and may have even laughed at some point.
Apparently, it was supposed to be a joke, part of a mock end-of-the-year awards ceremony at Anthony Aguirre Junior High in Channelview, Tex., near Houston, where a group of teachers hand certificates to students. Lizeth, 13, said her teacher “just laughed” when she signed and handed her the certificate, according to Washington Post.
Although CNN reports the school has not publicly identified the teacher who presented the award to Vilanueva, The Root states Caesar received her award from from her college-prep teacher Stacey Lockett. Prior to this incident, the teacher gave Caesar “a ‘black quiz’ to prove how black she was.”
It’s bad enough that awards were typed out and presented that trivialized the experiences and identities of young students. What’s worse is the fact that there were other teachers and faculty that were aware of this beforehand and allowed it to unfold at the expense of these students, and may have even laughed at some point.
As an institution, education has constantly used marginalized students and their experiences to advertise itself as a means of liberation from these students’ circumstances. That can never be accomplished so long as these students are used as the butt-end of racist jokes and the abuse of bigoted faculty.