Racism runs rampant

Since President Trump’s election, white nationalism has descended like a plague on our country, culminating in the violent “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville. Whenever the President holds a campaign rally, we must now endure the obnoxious and racist chants he encourages as he revels in the boost his immeasurable ego needs to fuel his narcissism.

A recent episode of racist bullying in Yerington public schools shows Nevada has not been spared from racists who are no longer shy about openly disrespecting anyone not demonstrably associated with the cult of “white culture.” According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, Taylissa Marriott and her stepsister Jayla Tolliver are African-American students at Yerington High School, where they have experienced ongoing racial bullying that would be intolerable in more enlightened areas of Nevada. School officials and local police have minimized the bullies’ behavior and the corresponding effects on the two girls and their family, using the old-school rationalization of “kids will be kids” to excuse their actions.

The bullying has featured hateful racist speech and name-calling. According to the newspaper, in October a photo was posted on social media by the shirtless son of a Lyon County sheriff’s deputy who is holding a gun and wearing a belt with knives. The photo, which portrays him in an odd, pseudo-warrior pose, is accompanied by a crude comment: “The red neck god of all gods … we bout to go [racial slur] huntin,” and “Watch out [racial slur].” The girls’ family filed police reports about the escalation in the bullying, but Yerington police refused to open an investigation, saying it was protected speech. The family’s official statements were then shredded by police, an action deemed a mistake when the newspaper asked about it. Yerington Mayor George Dini said the entire incident was simply a case of ignorant teenagers who meant no harm.

Nevada has strengthened its anti-bullying laws in schools in recent years over the objections of many school officials who don’t want to become the “bully police.” Yerington High School principal Duane Mattice was dismissive of the teenagers’ reports of bullying, saying nonsensically that the situation has now spiraled out of the school’s control. Mattice told the RG-J, “We are addressing those who have done something, but now other kids have gotten involved, and it’s hard to control that.”

The article highlights the refusal of many officials in Nevada to acknowledge the existence of bullying and racial strife in their schools. In an outrageous but revealing comment to the RG-J, Principal Mattice responds to a suggestion from a Paiute tribal leader that the school’s Notable Graduates wall include pictures of graduates from an array of racial and ethnic backgrounds by joking, “Last year we nominated someone of Italian descent. Does that count?” Surely we can do better by these students.

As the controversy swirled, Reno mourned the loss of a racial justice leader, Darryl Feemster, Sr., who died from a stroke he suffered earlier in November. Darryl worked for the City of Reno as the Youth and Seniors Services Manager and was a huge supporter of the Northeast Reno Community Center and the annual Senior Games. As a member of the extended Feemster family from northeast Reno, he was very active in local affairs, leading the effort to build the Duncan-Traner Community Library to serve area schools with expanded hours for the entire neighborhood. He hired foster youth for part-time jobs and added his guidance at no charge.

Darryl’s commitment to serving others and his friendly, engaging smile won him thousands of friends and supporters. In my mind, I can hear him counseling the Yerington stepsisters and their family and offering his heartfelt support during their troubles. We will greatly miss him.