LOCAL NEWS

Dad presses district for solutions after racist incident at Olympia high school

Jan 25, 2022, 1:26 PM | Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 7:30 am
Olympia high school...
Qayi Steplight speaking to KIRO 7 TV. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

One week after a video circulated showing students at a Capital High School basketball game in Olympia calling a Black student on the rival team a “gorilla,” the father of the targeted student says something of a movement has begun.

Parents who say that this is just the latest in a long history of racism in the Olympia School District have come forward to speak about their experiences and demand change, while students have staged walkouts at the schools.

“It seems like other families that have dealt with this situation, they’re feeling like, ‘OK, I’m going to talk up now,'” said Qayi Steplight, the father of the student who was targeted on camera.

Racist video from Olympia’s Capital High School basketball game sparks outrage

In the past week, Steplight said he has spoken with the Olympia School District Superintendent, as well as Capital High School’s principal, Rosemarie Burke, about steps to move forward. Steplight said he has been invited to the next Olympia School Board meeting, and is in talks about coming into Capital High School to teach students about his own experiences as a Black man.

In a letter to parents last week, Burke outlined the school’s immediate plans for anti-racism training and education, including meetings with different student groups and staff, and segments building on previous lessons learned from Martin Luther King Day and conversations with the Nisqually Tribe.

“They’re working on getting the Black Student Councils from different schools to come together to figure out policies that we can put in place, so I think that there’s a lot of movement going on,” Steplight said. “I definitely can’t diminish the responses and the actions that the students at the school and the school district itself are putting in place.”

Burke’s letter acknowledged that the process of change for the community “doesn’t happen overnight,” but emphasized that they are committed to “becoming a more just and inclusive school.”

Steplight agreed that there is a long way to go, but he is hopeful. Unlike other racism discussions in the past, he believes this one stands out because the racist words were caught on film. He said that proof is empowering witnesses to be brave enough to come forward and talk about what has happened at other games, without fear of repercussions or being called a liar.

“If there wasn’t a video, I don’t think that this would be as big of an issue, and I don’t think that everything that we’re seeing — as far as people getting involved, people wanting to make change, people wanting to put processes [in place] and come up with different groups to talk about this — I don’t believe it would have happened,” he said.

And it is important, he said, to harness the energy in the first few days after an incident like this and turn it into action, because “there’s a window of about a week or two where this is a big discussion” and momentum can build.

Unfortunately, not all of the feedback and comments Steplight has received from the community have been supportive. Steplight said he has also gotten quite a bit of harassment on the internet and even in person. However, he said the supportive messages have been far more numerous, and he is trying to let those voices drown out the malicious ones.

After all, he said, work needs to be done now to change the future for the next generation of kids at Olympia schools.

“At some point, either they’re going to take us seriously, or we’re going to have to start removing our kids from these schools,” he said.

Local News

(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
Frank Sumrall

Mayor’s search for permanent Police Chief looms over Seattle amid depleting law enforcement numbers

Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell recently consulted with a hiring firm as the decision to choose the next Chief of Police heats up.
2 days ago
Seattle Sun...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Sunny skies, warm temperatures forecast for western Washington this weekend

Sunny skies and warm temperatures are forecast for much of western Washington, with some areas expected to reach temps in the 70s.
2 days ago
Student STEM...
Nicole Jennings

From athletes to mathletes: STEM Signing Day shines light on WA scholars

STEM Signing Day gives stellar science, technology, engineering, and math scholars a chance to shine in the same way as high school athletes.
2 days ago
Prison 900x506...
MyNorthwest Staff

Governor Inslee cancels parole determination for triple murderer

Governor Inslee has cancelled an order that granted parole to Timothy Pauley, who had been incarcerated for three counts of first degree murder in 1981.
2 days ago
revive I-5...
MyNorthwest Staff

Revive I-5, Montlake Bridge closure will cause traffic issues this weekend

The sunny forecast will put Seattleites in a great mood this weekend, but the traffic won't thanks to repairs to I-5 and the Montlake Bridge.
2 days ago
Police follow protesters as they move through the city during racial justice protests on November 3...
Hanna Scott

Report on 2020 protests recommends new training for SPD, debunks “mob psychology”

SPD’s approach to the 2020 protests underutilized de-escalation through dialogue and relied on indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Dad presses district for solutions after racist incident at Olympia high school