Anonymous Instagram page draws attention to racism in Poway Unified School District

A testimonial from the @blackinpusd Instagram account.
(@blackinpusd Instagram)

The social media account is filled with testimonials from students, parents and staff members


Young people have been at the center of an international anti-racism movement sparked by recent Black Lives Matter protests.

The case is no different in San Diego, with the anonymous Instagram account Black in PUSD (@blackinpusd) exposing decades of racial discrimination within the Poway Unified School District.

The account, unaffiliated with Poway Unified, began posting stories from parents, staff members and students regarding their experiences with racism in the district on June 17. As of July 30, the account has shared over 500 testimonies and gained over 7,000 followers.

The submissions come from Black community members, other minorities underrepresented in the district and bystanders who have witnessed racist acts. Community members can share their experiences through an anonymous Google form linked in the Instagram account’s bio.

“This account was originally created for Black students to express their encounters with racism in the Poway Unified School District, but because Black people make up only 1.9% of the population we decided it was best to provide a safe space for other minorities to voice their experiences,” the creators said.

The account’s stories are often jarring, and the amount of traction the page has received was unexpected by Black in PUSD’s founders. One testimony from Poway High School details a history teacher who told his students that he believes LGBTQ people are mentally ill and refers to African American people as “the Blacks.”

“In his class he often made us watch videos of police brutality, and after, we would debate whether the person deserved to die,” the post read.

The testimonies of racism date back to decades ago, revealing the long-standing nature of racial discrimination in Poway schools.

“I was there when students hung a noose in the lunch area where mostly Black and other students of color sat for lunch,” a post from the Poway High School class of 1999 read. “There were no consequences.”

Poway Unified School District leaders together with Black student representatives to discuss action against racism.
On June 26, Poway Unified School District leaders met with Black student representatives to discuss action against racism. The group will meet monthly moving forward.
(Courtesy of PUSD Chief Communications Officer Christine Paik)

While the account’s creators amplify others’ stories of racial discrimination, they too have personal experiences with racism in PUSD. One founder encountered a teacher reading aloud the n-word in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, simplifying the action as a harmless part of the reading.

In the same class, a debate over the n-word included a student arguing that the slur was “just a word.” In a separate incident, another student equated the Black Lives Matter movement with the Ku Klux Klan.

“I’ve been called the n-word on multiple occasions, some of which were even in front of staff members, but no real action was taken,” a Black in PUSD creator shared. “These are just a few of the hundreds of racist encounters we’ve had in this community — the list goes on and on.”

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