Slant Eyes Not Funny

Anti-Semitic vandalism in Glen Ridge. Vitriolic leafletting in Montclair. Here’s another to add to the list. The 7th-8th grade yearbook at Glen Ridge High School.
Several parents complained about a picture on page 41 of the book, showing two boys stretching their eyelids down to make themselves look Asian.


Herman Lew, parent of a 7th grader, expressed his anger on paper.

For me, it is utterly unbelievable that I see a picture of two boys pulling back their eyelids, slant-eyed, in what I’m sure was done in a playful jest but is in the end a gesture of racial insensivity … The fact that a picture of racial insensitivity found its way through and gets legitimized into a school yearbook is absolutely astounding. Where was the educational supervision and oversight with this project?

Kenneth Rota, principal of the school, wrote a letter of apology to parents of 7th and 8th graders.

I can assure you that the message of the picture does not represent our student body and the printing of this picture was not intentional. We, as a district, are committed to establishing an educational environmental that embraces all cultures.

Daniel Fishbein, the schools superintendant, whose car was defaced in April by a high school student who scratched the words “Jew Boy” into it, sent an e-mail to Karen Nisenson, another parent, saying such mistakes are inherent in a yearbooks: “Every year something gets by us.” Not good enough, counters Nisenson. “It didn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this was wrong.”

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