Islamophobia is a Curable Epidemic

By Khayla Dixon

Islamophobia is an epidemic in post 9/11 America, and it is evident that school children are not excluded from this trend.

Islamophobia, the dislike of or prejudice against Islam or Muslims, has increased in the country since the September 11th attacks, and seems to be passing on to a new generation. In many parts of the country, Muslim or Arab students are mocked with bigoted, prejudice terms such as “terrorist” or “towel-head” (which denigrate their religious headdress).

In a Journalism class press conference, Ms. Trocolar, HHS psychologist, said, “Religion doesn’t play a role in public schools, but there is an effort to educate students. It is a place to learn about it.”

D Trocolar

HHS School Psychologist Ms. Trocolar

This offers a possible solution for Islamophobia; teaching others about Islam. By teaching students the principles and ideals valued by Muslims we can hope to discourage the hate associated with the religion.

During the press conference, Ms.Trocolar stated that though she hasn’t seen Islamophobia present in our school, she does not doubt it could be present.

Mrs. Shepard, an HHS social worker, also agreed, stating that she sees there could be “potential” for Islamophobia in our school.

Pat

HHS School Social Worker Ms. Shepard

An infamous example of Islamophobia in high school was perpetrated not by students but teachers and administrators. In Texas’s MacArthur High School, in 2015,  Ahmed Mohamed, a freshman, was arrested and accused of terrorism when he brought a homemade clock to school. This event captured America’s attention and brought awareness to the active prejudice sometimes present in our school systems.

In discussing Islamaphobic shamers, Mrs. Shepard stated that shaming “goes to the core of who you are.” This implied that those who shame others are dealing with insecurities of their own, and using bullying as an outlet.

HHS School Psychiatrist Dr. Dimitry asserted that one way to stop shaming was to make bullies “aware of the impact of their own actions.”

Dr Dimitry

HHS School Psychiatrist Dr. Dimitry

Dr. Dimitry commented on the long-term effects of bullying on those shamed, “What they’re hearing about themselves can carry through to adulthood.”

By addressing this and encouraging students to work to feel better about themselves, we may be able to reduce and maybe even stop shaming.

HHS Reacts to #Blackensack Slur

By Kimberly Pena

Recently a photo was posted on Instagram with the racially insensitive caption, “For Klass #Blackensack” by a student from Paramus High School, clearly referring to HHS as “Blackensack”.

The photo sparked outrage when a screenshot of the post was uploaded onto Twitter with the caption, “Racism still exists nowadays.” It received 77 retweets and 42 likes on the social media site, along with comments from HHS alumni ranging from simple “wows” to “truly a shame.” The post also reached Facebook, catching the attention of many parents.

According to several sources including NorthJersey.com the post was also referring to former Paramus wrestling coach Steve Klass, who was relieved of his duties as coach last month for issues Paramus is as yet unwilling to discuss.

According to a story published on NJ.com, the Paramus superintendent of schools called the racially-insensitive post on a Spartans wrestler’s Instagram account “inappropriate and unacceptable.”

The news website quoted  the superintendent, Dr. Michele Robinson as stating, “Without question, the comment is not condoned by the Paramus Public School District and the Board of Education, nor does it reflect the views of our community.”

When asked “how do you think #Blackensack impacts Hackensack High,” HHS Athletic Director Petrella said, “The unfortunate use of that ‘stereotype’ by a Paramus wrestler is not new to students and athletes at HHS. Such displays of ignorance have been used by our competition for the 33 years that I have been a part of the Hackensack family. We have dealt with these types of things by competing with class and dignity. Our athletes use their actions to prove that ignorant comments define the person using them. The immediate impact was negligible. Many were offended by the hashtag, however, it did not prevent our athletics from practicing and competing.”

The HHS Comet News contacted Paramus High School Principal Raymond J Kiem via email for a comment, but he did not respond directly. Instead, he emailed HHS Principal Montesano, stating that he “appreciates the professionalism and the interest on the topic but cannot make any statements at this time.”

For the record, #Blackensack too narrowly defines our school. The truth about HHS is that this school houses students of many races and ethnicities. We have Latino, Caucasian, African-American, Asian, and can proudly proclaim ethnicities from all over the globe as members of our family.