Fourteen students at St. Ignatius College Preparatory in San Francisco who participated in a “wigga” party have been suspended.
“Wigga,” a contraction of the word “white” and a racial epithet used for blacks, connotes a white person imitating blacks’ clothes and mannerisms, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
The party, held last Saturday, occurred at the Stern Grove in the Outer Sunset; St. Ignatius Principal Patrick Ruff stated that the partygoers came from at least five different high schools. He added:
It’s disheartening and incredibly sad this type of thing exists not just for SI, but for the entire city.This really is a critical juncture for us… We work really hard to educate our young men and women on issues of equity and inclusion. We’ve been doing this work for years, but now we have a concrete example that will give us an opportunity to have a conversation.
Blacks comprise under 5% of the school’s enrollment; whites, 55%.
Nahrie Pierce, the president of the school’s Black Studewnt Union, noticed the party when pictures were posted on social media. Joining other black students in the school, she contacted Matthew Balano, the director of the Office of Equity and Inclusion.
The school issued this statement:
Regardless of the intent of those who participated, their actions had an adverse effect on the community and on them. We categorically condemn this gathering as it does not represent the Ignatian values or ideals that our school stands for, and thus we are called to respond. … Over the years, we have done much work in the area of diversity through the school’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, which is an integral part of our school community. Clearly, however, we have more work ahead of us in forming adolescents to be their best selves. Values of diversity, equity and inclusion are core school values. We also acknowledge that this is part of a larger national conversation, and we now have the opportunity to address this issue courageously and directly.
Ruff said he would speak to the student body and also smaller student groups about the issue. Student Body President Lizzie Ford told the Chronicle, “Kids are angry and things are intense. This is heartbreaking, but you have to acknowledge when you mess up and we messed up. A lot of students are in pain, but this is an opportunity for us to say that this is not the school we are.”
ABC 7 reported that Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory is investigating whether its students also attended the party.