Hart District Governing Board addresses racist video, controversial Facebook post

Addison Seegmiller, Copy Editor

William S. Hart Union High School District held a board meeting March 15. Among the regularly scheduled agenda were the topics of councilman Joe Messina’s Facebook post, which many commenters labeled as racist, and two Valencia students who posted a video on social media of them saying the n-word, quoting a song by London Yellow. Many public comments cited a now deleted Facebook post in which Messina appeared to downplay the severity of slavery and racism. Councilman Messina began the meeting by stating that he “has no tolerance for racism” which was met with laughter from some members of the audience. He defended his comment towards teachers by using his neighbor who tutors seven to eight kids as an example of great teachers.

Dr. Cherise Moore, a member of the Hart district governing board, spoke about the comments made by Messina and the video that surfaced of Valencia and West Ranch students singing along to a song by London Yellow which said the n-word as well as “I hate [n-word]” and “I don’t like [n-words].” Moore told the audience that she wishes for the meeting to continue peacefully and that she hopes for the students in the Santa Clarita Valley to be kind and respectful to one another.

Promise Thomas, a junior at Valencia High School and Vice President of the Valencia Black Student Union spoke during the public comments as well. She called out citizens of Santa Clarita and their unwillingness to understand the pain and hurt she, as a black student, has experienced. 

“We need to work towards an environment where our Black students feel safe and comfortable on campus and off. We start that process by having conversations that make us uncomfortable, asking questions and rejecting ignorance and calling things what they are: racism.” 

Each council member who spoke condemned the girls’ actions as well as Joe Messina’s Facebook post. The council made it clear that the punishment for these girls would be handled privately and would not be discussed publicly.