Though the marching band itself could hardly be considered an insidious or bigoted organization, according to sources in marching band, a small subset of people within the organization have been saying and doing things which are, quite frankly, unacceptable.
Under the condition of anonymity, a marching band student said, “I feel unsafe every ——- day… Marching band doesn’t feel very inviting sometimes, so I just kind of chill in my own section… They throw f-ggot around, the kids who do hard r’s, the kids who use the r-word, it’s like all over the place.”
After the administration became aware of an early draft of this article, Principal Kara Butler initiated an investigation into the marching band, interviewing students, giving a speech to the band as a whole, and talking with band director Alexander Christensen and other staff members.
It seems that racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, and ableism have gone unreported, only recently coming to the attention of adminstrators. Some band members even went so far as to arrange instruments into the shape of a swastika.
Standing by when other students are bullied is a mistake; standing up for others makes Leigh a better place. Showing support for people trying to combat the bigotry is important.
“There’s really intense racism, and I mean, I know it’s supposed to be like a joke, but it’s really not okay. People I don’t even know come to me… I don’t even know their names and they come up to me and call me out,” stated another member of marching band on the condition of anonymity.
These incidents are not indicative of the entire band, but reportedly more frequent in certain sections.
“Certain sections… are pretty bad,” said the anonymous student.
Eliza Ohlund, senior and a member of the Leigh color guard, agrees this problem is not consistent throughout the entire band.
“Although there has always been slight competition between certain members in an attempt to be the best and to be section heads, which can sometimes lead to ill comments about others’ ability to lead, I have never heard anything particularly bigoted. Within the guard, I have never heard a bigoted comment from a guard member or instructor.”
Although Christensen declined to comment for this article, he gave a speech decrying racism and the use of racial jokes some weeks ago, following his discovery of a sweatshirt design posted right outside the band room door that featured a stereotypical caricature of a Mexican.
Both Christensen and Butler declined to comment for the article, but both have given speeches on the issue for the band.
The fact that an investigation is going on shows a positive change.
If this article makes you angry, that is a good thing. Anger is motivation; anger can be used to do good.
Though the admin are getting involved, the real task is up to us, the students. The solution lies in our own hands. Every Leigh student should work to be kinder, more tolerant of other races, cultures, sexualities, genders, and beliefs. Work to stand up when you see someone doing something wrong. Work to make your school better, more inclusive, and stronger.