The AjA Project: Photography Programs for San Diego Youth
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Hoover High: Home for Diversity by Jason Fletes

Photo by Jason Fletes

In the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s, people of color fought for more equality in order to end racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans. The movement prompted the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which made it a federal crime to “by force or threat of force, injure, intimidate, or interfere with anyone…by reason of their race, color, religion, or national origin.” Despite this impactful legislation, African Americans and minority groups have struggled with societal power dynamics and discrimination for decades since.

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Photo by Jason Fletes

Mr. Harley  remembers those times.

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While there have been improvements in race relations over time, our society still has a long way to go. Tensions between police and people of different races and culture have been increasingly high over the past few years, as seen nationally with such cases as Ferguson, and locally, at Lincoln High School in South East San Diego where a widely-publicized racially-charged student fight occurred in late 2015. With the climate as it is, Hoover High School remains a safe space for people of all races and cultural backgrounds.

“The diversity at Hoover is really quite outstanding,” said Hoover High School Vice Principal Jeremy Martin. “With this kind of diversity come a lot of groups and agencies that support the students.”

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Photo by Jason Fletes

Hoover High School’s Vice Principals, Carlos Ramirez (pictured left) and Jeremy Martin (pictured right) stand together as a united front against discrimination and racism at Hoover High School.

“Here at Hoover, I have not encountered one incident regarding race where people have not been sensitive to the color of another student,” said Hoover Vice Principal Carlos Ramirez. “We have ESL students who are not able to communicate well with peers and administration and instead of seeing isolation of these students, I see young people supporting each other and helping one another.”

Many attribute the heightened cultural awareness and inclusion at Hoover High School to the diversity of the school’s teachers, administration and staff. This, combined with the school’s network of organizations and after-school clubs, creates an environment of cultural awareness and inclusion, according to Vice Principal Martin.

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Photo by Jason Fletes

Dulce Perez, a Junior at Hoover High School, resettled in San Diego from Honduras in 2013. Perez is an example of Hoover’s diverse student body, which includes youth from a range of countries, including Tanzania, Cuba, Vietnam, Mexico, the Congo, Korea and Somalia.

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Photo by Jason Fletes

“(Hoover High School staff and administration) have been doing a lot of work in the last year and a half to identify the organizations who best support Hoover’s student body,” said Hoover VP Martin. “Students are going to be more successful if they feel connected to a program, to other students and adult mentors, so we’ve been trying to make those connections happen on both the individual and community level.”

The variety of clubs available to Hoover’s diverse student body includes APAP, Black Student Union (BSU) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

Vice President of the Black Student Union and Junior at Hoover High School, Kat C. (pictured above), presents information to her club members about the Black LGBTQIA+ community in efforts to continue educating and raising awareness.

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Photo by Jason Fletes

Ruben Prado, a Mexican student and Junior at Hoover High School, watches his peers and waits for class in the hallway.

There is still much progress to be made in regard to race relations in the US. While we may have come a long way since the Civil Rights Movement, there still exists racial injustice that is happening on a daily basis. Youth, administration and staff at Hoover High School hope to one day see a country of cross-cultural understanding and inclusion, free of racism and discrimination.

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