A California school district announced that what “appeared to be a noose” was found hanging from a tree in front of home within the district. Local police concluded it was not a noose, but a rope swing for children. The school district swiftly responded, not by closing the investigation and moving on from the non-incident, but by instead imposing race education and “anti-racism” goals on students and staff.
The principals, assistant principals, and superintendents from both high schools in Piedmont Unified School District in Piedmont, California sent a message to parents, students, and staff in mid-September notifying them that although the intent of local rope swing was “innocuous,” the district would be discussing “systemic racism” and “identity privilege.”
The district’s statement used inflammatory language such as labeling certain identities as “dominant,” and informing families that they must “apologize” for the rope swing non-incident and others of its kind.
“While it is unlikely that most of us will replicate this particular act, it is likely that those of us with identity privilege have caused harm ‘unintentionally’ to those with non-dominant identities,” the district wrote. “Rather than absolving ourselves of responsibility, we must listen, reflect, apologize, and do better when we are told that the impact of our actions does not align with our intentions or perceptions of ourselves.”
“Any reminder of the history of lynching and the abuses and murders of Black people in the United States causes harm and trauma to the BIPOC community,” district leadership wrote.
The school administrators also took this as an opportunity to promote their racial equity curriculum devoted to providing “equitable outcomes for students who identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color” through new race policies that passed in early September.
“Systemic racism has a long history in our country and in Piedmont. Recognizing the positions we hold as site and district administrators, our goal is to use our power to lead for equity and change. This incident highlights the importance of continuing and improving the educator training and district policy-making centered around anti-racism,” the email said.
The school also encouraged students and staff to “discuss and report any racist act or experience” as well as reach out to the district for support as well as commended the teachers and students who made a “sincere commitment to taking action and engaging in dialogue” about the swing.
A similar situation unfolded earlier this summer when a supposed “noose” was found in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage at Talladega Superspeedway in June. The report was investigated by the FBI and determined to be a “pull rope for a garage door that had been there since 2019.”