It is my impression that overwhelmingly the community’s response to the photograph of Baraboo High School students giving a Nazi salute has been shock and disappointment.
While the photo is reprehensible, I ask that the citizens of Baraboo think critically about how this community has historically addressed issues of racism and discrimination. Over the past day, I have read dozens of stories from past and current students of racism that went unchecked, even when reported. I personally remember racial slurs, hate speech and Confederate flags flying high in the parking lot. This is the environment that allows students to feel comfortable making a Nazi salute.
If we are to truly achieve meaningful change, we must listen to the stories of students who tell us about the very real racism they experience and still face. We, as a community and a school district, have a responsibility to implement real, immediate, and tangible change to ensure our students of color, LGBTQ students and students of different faiths have safe and enriching schools to attend. We must all admit our complicity and complacency in allowing this photo and the bigotry it represents to go unchecked.
Katy Philabaum, Baraboo