As the school year begins, a new local organization is calling on the Coronado Unified School District to build a more inclusive community. InclusioNado was founded in June, following protests in Coronado and across the country over issues of racism and discrimination. The group is made up of students, parents and community members, who aim to work with the district to promote diversity at school.
“Our initiative is to build a school community where anti-racism thrives, black lives matter, and racial and ethnic diversity is embraced,” said Donna Manning, speaking on behalf of the group. “We are a non-political and non-religious organization open to all. We know and believe that all lives matter, we just need the community’s help to focus on our black students and children of color, who are currently experiencing racial injustice in our school district and community.”
Members say racist behavior has been an issue at Coronado schools for years, and yet there has been little change. When George Floyd was murdered by Minnesota Police officers in May, they felt compelled to act.
“The Coronado school experience does have a lasting impact on its students – potentially for the good or the bad,” the group said. “It has the power to help students develop into critical thinkers who are aware of the diversity in our nation and who are empathetic about social justice issues. We cannot allow our students to leave the district unprepared to engage in the world as global citizens.”
Although protests have sparked across the country following Floyd’s death, InclusioNado believes the issue of race and diversity in Coronado is unique.
“The school district is primarily composed of white students, and some people express the belief that talking about these issues is not relevant to Coronado,” the group said. “Because we are so homogeneous, episodes of discrimination, harassment, and intolerance towards Black, LatinX and LGBTQ children are easily and too often overlooked. But this makes the attacks even more poignant for the victims and their families, who have no support groups and feel they have nowhere to turn.”
According to U.S. Census bureau data, nearly 87 percent of Coronado’s population is white. In comparison, nearly 65 percent of San Diego residents are white. InclusioNado believes this lack of diversity hurts all Coronado students, even those who are not minorities.
“Our homogeneity is detrimental to all students – they will leave the shelter of our island woefully unprepared to adapt to the much more diverse outside world,” the group said.
At the CUSD meeting earlier this month, InclusioNado members protested outside the district offices. Since then, they say they’ve initiated a positive dialogue with the district.
“We hope InclusioNado will be seen by the School Board as a resource to address racial equity by contributing the perspective of students, alumni, and parents who have experienced racism or hate speech and have discovered obstacles to their redress in the school system,” the group said. “We know that the School Board, administrators, and teachers are caring and committed to our students. It is encouraging that they are being so proactive in ensuring that all students are treated with dignity and respect.”
The Coronado Times reached out to the Coronado Unified School District. They did not have a comment on InclusioNado’s mission but did say they are confident in the district’s plan to promote diversity for the future.
“Our Governing Board and CUSD staff are very committed to making sure that every child, every day, feels safe, valued, and respected while in our care,” Coronado School District board member, Maria Simon, said. “While there are immediate actions that will be taken to support that commitment, meaningful change is a process and takes time. The district will be working on a two year timeline involving in-depth research, academic conversations, detailed data analysis and professional development. It is a thoughtful and long-term approach.”
To learn more about InclusioNado and their 8 Items for Action Plan, visit their website.
Editor’s Note: This article was edited on September 4, 2020 to include an image of InclusioNado’s “8 Items for Action Plan.”