BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — Berkeley High School has asked all students to bring back their yearbooks after offensive language was placed into the yearbook. The students affected believe the comment was motivated by race.
It wasn’t the grammatical errors or the misspellings in the message. Rather, it was the comment about trash collectors that really angered and even put some students in tears.
“People are ignorant and disrespectful. When is it going to stop? It’s hurtful,” Jannya Solwazi, a Berkeley High sophomore, told KPIX 5.
Berkeley High has several small schools within it. In the yearbook, someone wrote “The Academy of Medicine and Public Service is a small learning community focus [sic] on medicine, making our future doctors, dentists, nurses, physicians, fire chiefs and trash collators [sic] of tomorrow.”
The school said someone replaced the word “innovators,” with trash collectors before 1,200 books went to print.
“It’s actually a prank. We confirmed it’s absolutely a prank,” said Berkeley Unified School District spokesperson Mark Coplan. “Someone went in, changed the text.”
Many students don’t find it funny. The academy, better known as AMPS, is made up of almost 80 percent black and Latino students.
“I feel like the garbage collector was in a way trying to attack colored people,” said Jace White, a senior at AMPS.
“It’s not so much about the occupation, but it’s about the poison and the intent behind it,” said Solwazi.
Many students said they’re fed up with people labeling them.
“I have to fight so hard every day because of the color of my skin,” said Solwazi. “No matter how successful we’ve become, we are constantly reminded that because the color of our skin, we’re seen as less than. And that’s not OK.”
Close to 200 books were distributed, many of those have been returned. The school plans to cover the offensive material in all yearbooks with a sticker printed with the correct message.
The district discovered the problem on Tuesday. It has opened an investigation to track down the people responsible.