Hate or heritage?

Lakeside high school pushes through racism controversy

Student- created image that circulated the school and the rest of Dekalb County.

Student- created image that circulated the school and the rest of Dekalb County.

The south is often noted for its colorful, and often, racist past. Though many thought racism would die out in the 1960’s due to laws and Supreme Court cases, the south sometimes continues to breed racist ideals.

The last place of this century- old pattern is one close to home.

Just outside of Decatur’s 4.2 square miles, Lakeside high school found themselves dealing with their own incident.

In the past couple of weeks, racism surfaced at this DeKalb County school. The issues started in a staff meeting, where, according to a flyer, principal Jason Clyne allegedly lost his temper with the janitorial staff and security guards. When a fellow anonymous staff member overheard his remarks, she typed, printed and posted these flyers around the school, exposing Clyne’s outburst.

This flyer, made by an anonymous staff member, made its way around Lakeside high school in the past couple of weeks.

According to students and staff, Clyne was accused of saying, “I’m a redneck master with a degree. I run these 40 acres!” Some people believe he made these comments, whereas some people believe he said, “I’m a redneck with a Master’s degree,” and the rest was nothing but rumors.

On Tuesday, January 25th, after the flyer made its rounds, Lakeside was put on lockdown as Clyne was escorted out by the police. By that Thursday, he was officially suspended. Although no one is sure whether or not Clyne made the comments, the situation remains under investigation.

Lakeside students are fervent, in school and out, in expressing their opinions about Clyne and his suspension.

When you are in a leadership position, you must be extremely careful about what you say, especially involving sensitive issues about race,” junior Olivia Pratt said. “Clyne was obviously racist, but should have kept his feelings to himself.”

Students have also taken to social media as an outlet. While students discussed the topic, some of the posts were seen as harmful, and quickly turned into heated arguments for the world to see.

According to the WSB-TV, one Lakeside student messaged his friend, who attends a nearby school, using derogatory terms. This conversation somehow ended up on Twitter, and both boys suffered consequences from their schools.

Similar to this argument was a post, created by a senior at the high school, of a Confederate flag that was altered to match the school’s yellow and purple colors with the Lakeside mascot in the center. The caption on the photo was, “Soon, Lakeside, soon.” Students, parents and even local media used this image as a key argument for the school’s racism controversy.

Senior John Ashby believes these social media disputes are “ridiculous.”

“If people just talked in person, none of the these issues would be as prevalent as they are,” he said. “People say stupid stuff on social media that they would never say in person.”

Some students see this as just another in a string of incidents this school year. Senior Kimani Mustafa says racism debates occur more frequently this year than in years past.

“Unfortunately, most people of all races are racist in some way,” Mustafa said. “I feel like people have some views and morals that are really offensive, and it’s either that they don’t understand or don’t care that those things are offensive. They voice them anyway, and that’s just not okay.”

Junior Geoff Haggary agrees with Mustafa, adding that “hate and prejudice is still imbedded in the minds of people.”

“The fact that so many students supported Clyne and wanted him back shows that racism and prejudice has not died,” he said.

While many students believe Clyne’s remarks were true, others like junior Gordon Lewis, an African American junior at the school, do not.

“I liked Mr. Clyne and didn’t find him racist at all,” he said. “Every time I would see him, he’d ask me how football was going.”

Lewis believes the situation “should’ve been handled way differently.”

“I think he just said [the remarks] to the wrong crowd of people who take things too seriously,” he said. “It shouldn’t have been brought out to the whole world.”

Junior Emily Chebib is one of the many students to point out that on top of the drama surrounding these events, the media magnifies the situation with every report. She and her classmates agree that their school is not struggling with racism as much as they’re made out to be.

“I believe that Clyne said [the racist comments], but also I feel like [students, parents and the media] exaggerated it a ton,” she said.

Ashby agrees with Chebib that the media has “blown [it] out of proportion.”

“I think [the media’s projection] is a misrepresentation of Lakeside,” Ashby said. “I think we tend to get along pretty well.”

Sophomore Myles Boyd agrees.

“I know it’s a big deal,” he said. “He’s a principal and all, but it shouldn’t be getting the attention it is because there’s racism all over the world.”

Ashby’s and Boyd’s classmate, senior Garvin Blackburn, recalls the media’s hussle to interview students at their school and find an angle with their stories.

“The news people have been talking to kids all last week, and the AJC just put out a story that puts all our ‘racist’ stuff in one story,” Blackburn said. “It’s kind of a ridiculous story, and there aren’t really any racial problems.”

Ashby agrees with Blackburn that no problems with racism at their school exist.

“Most people that I know and have talked to do not feel any real racial tension,” Ashby said. “It’s just the people with the strongest opinions who get heard. The majority of Lakeside is just fine and going on with their daily lives.”

Mustafa, like Ashby, recognizes that while different opinions circulate throughout Lakeside, classmates will eventually move past the controversy.

“Those [problems] just got blown way out of proportion,” Mustafa said. “The things [everyone] said are messed up, but we’re just keepin’ movin’.”





For more information about this story, be sure to check out: