BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — A Bakersfield Christian High School student displayed a derogatory comment about African Americans in the background of their Zoom picture on Tuesday while in class, according to a letter sent to BCHS parents obtained by 17 News.
In the letter, BCHS President John Buetow said the student’s Zoom background read “Black lives don’t actually matter” and “BLM is a joke to society.” The students were not identified by the school.
The incident was brought to the school’s attention by other students, after which an investigation was launched, Buetow said in the letter.
BCHS provided the following statement to 17 News:
“Black lives absolutely do matter. As a school — more specifically as a Christian school — we must be unequivocal in this statement,” the statement said. “Black lives have been created in the image of God and are of inherent value. There are pivotal times in every nation’s history when the American history in regards to not only racial justice in general, but very specifically – in regards to advancing the rights and opportunities of the African American community who has endured particular injustices throughout our nation’s history.
“The time period in which we are living is complex. Yet some things should not be complex,” the statement said. “We should each strive on a daily basis to treat every human being with Christlikeness. May we as a school community model this very behavior not only to each other, but also to the greater Bakersfield community as we live out our ministry.”
Buetow said in the letter that BCHS believes in racial justice. However, the school did not go so far as to say it fully supports the actions of the BLM organization.
“We support racial justice. Where Black Lives Matter or any other organization supports this same goal, we are in absolute alignment. Period,” he said. “Supporting one aspect which an organization espouses does not indicate a support of all of its positions or the manner in which it advances its goals.”
Buetow said in the letter that the school will not comment on what disciplinary measures will be taken in regards to the incident. However, he did address the importance of letting students learn from their mistakes.
“It is unfortunate that (this) background was chosen. Yet we also have to acknowledge that students make mistakes…sometimes serious mistakes,” he said in the letter. “The redirecting of student behavior and the engagement in discussion of what would have been more appropriate is a critical element of high school education. We are committed not only to rules and discipline, but far more greatly to helping students grow in their Christian faith walk through the redirecting of actions into behavior which will best model the Christian faith.”