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The Disturbances At Inglewood High

May 09, 1998

Disturbances erupted at Inglewood High School this week between African American and Latino students. Police were brought onto the campus and school was dismissed early. No one was injured on campus.

The campus has experienced disturbances around Cinco de Mayo for several years. School administrators have announced plans for a conference with community leaders to improve understanding among the diverse student population.

Two Inglewood High School honor students reflected on the disturbances.

JOYCELYN SMART 16, sophomore

It's no secret that the majority of students at Inglewood High School tend to stay within their own groups. Having attended predominantly black schools--Inglewood is now majority Latino--I have always been willing to interact with and learn from people of different ethnic groups.

I heard that it was tradition at this school for a disturbance to break out around Cinco de Mayo every year. My first thought was that this was nonsense. But last Monday, right after lunch, I knew that something had gone terribly wrong.

Luckily, during the time of the disturbance, I was in the safety of my biology class. It was hard for us, as well as the teacher, to concentrate on the day's lesson because of all the noise outside of the classroom.

My class and I heard police sirens and students shouting. The class atmosphere was uneasy. Not too long after the period was over, we were sent home.

Police cars had blocked off surrounding streets, worried parents were trying to pick up their children and news crews were trying to learn what had happened. There were many curious onlookers.

Many students were unhappy and felt that the situation did not have to happen. They were embarrassed, just as I was--and everyone should have been--because nothing was accomplished.

The fact that this disturbance has become a tradition is no excuse at all. When will we, as minorities, wake up and start fighting for the things that really matter? We should strive for the things that will better prepare us for a bright future. What do we prove when we fight one another?

I won't say that it's easy or difficult to learn to tolerate different people. But tolerance is something we have to want to give.

ARIANA RUIZ 14, freshman

I think that these incidents happened because the involved students found this to be some neurotic way to get attention--not through something constructive, but rather turning to some morbid idea of hurting each other. This incident occurred the day before Cinco de Mayo. If you were to go on the campus, it is probably a sure bet that less than half of the student population, including some Latinos, would even know why Cinco de Mayo was being celebrated.

On a typical school day, Inglewood High School is a melting pot and the battlefield-like description given by the media seems misplaced. You see students of all races living comfortably with one another.

I asked some of my friends what they would do to help the problems that occur here nearly every Cinco de Mayo. One said they should send students home after lunch that day. Another said to increase the police patrols.

What they really should do is to educate the students, let them know why we celebrate Cinco De Mayo, why it means so much to Latinos and why it should make every person of color celebrate. Then, hope that common sense will let them know what's right.

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